DETROIT, Michigan — The finale of a four-game series between the Cleveland Guardians and the Detroit Tigers saw the Michiganders go for the four-game home sweep on a cool, cloudy afternoon. And, what do you know, they managed to pull it off with an 8-2 win powered by some timely hitting with runners on base.
Michael Pineda made his second start for Detroit after spending time on the injured list, his previous outing being a five-inning affair against the Royals on July 1 in which he gave up seven hits and three runs. Big Mike has been a sorely-missed member of the rotation, you know, with all the starting-pitcher injuries and the whatnot. He is also, it is worth noting, a very large dude.
Facing Pineda was Shane Bieber, who’s been his normal, low-3’s-ERA, high-strikeouts, Tiger-killing self this year. Against Detroit in Bieber’s career so far, coming into today’s start, he had a 7-3 record with an ERA just over 2, averaging about seven innings per start and giving up a scant four home runs in over 70 innings. His previous start against Detroit was a gem on May 28; he went eight innings, scattering eight hits and giving up a single run.
Franmil Reyes got Cleveland on the board in the second with a solo home run to right, but Pineda limited any further damage to keep it at 1-0.
The Tigers got that run back in the bottom of the inning when Jonathan Schoop, who’d singled and stolen second base (yup, he’s a speed demon these days) scored on a Kody Clemens single that got past the second baseman. Clemens also stole second — clearly AJ Hinch was keen on testing Sandy León’s arm, especially after watching him pitch in Tuesday’s blowout — and it paid off again as he scored on Tucker Barnhart’s single to right, making it a 2-1 game.
Meanwhile, Pineda was looking pretty good, mixing up sliders and changeups and the like, occasionally touching 90 mph.
Cleveland got their first two on in the fifth with a pair of soft singles; a double-play grounder pushed Ernie Clement up to third with two outs. Steven Kwan poked a double right along the left-field line to score Clement and re-tie the game at deuces.
Detroit got their first two on in the fifth too, via a Spencer Torkelson single and a Tucker Barnhart walk. Javier Báez singled to right to score Torkelson, putting Detroit back up by a run.
A soft Robbie Grossman tapper to first acted like a bunt, putting runners on second and third for Miguel Cabrera. The big guy delivered in a big way, singling to right and driving both Barnhart and Báez, making it a 5-2 game.
Pineda gave way to Alex Lange in the sixth; Lange’s stuff has been dynamite this season and the results certainly bear this out. He also sported the “turtleneck neck, but no long sleeves” look today, a curious fashion pairing. Lange pitched a mostly-uneventful sixth, and Michael Fulmer did the same in the seventh, although Cleveland did get two on with two out before Amed Rosario flew out to end the threat.
Detroit added some insurance in the seventh — Báez walked, then Grossman took a trip to triples territory in right-center; Cabrera cashed Grossman in with a sacrifice fly to deep right, setting the score at 7-2.
Kody Clemens skied a moonshot to the right-field stands in the eighth for his third home run in seven games, pushing the lead to 8-2.
This thing was a mile high, folks. A real rainbow.
After an eighth inning that saw Andrew Chafin touch 95 mph a couple of times, Will Vest came on for the ninth to close things out, and the brooms were officially deployed. Given how Cleveland has manhandled the Tigers in recent years, this was especially sweet.
Notes and Observations
- This is the first time I’ve recapped a game while actually being in attendance for it. My thumbs got a workout! For the record, I was in section 114.
- The Tigers swept a four-game set from Cleveland for the first time since 1986. Yep, feels like that long ago.
- Kody Clemens’ walk-up music is “Eminence Front” by The Who. Not exactly what I was expecting, to be honest.
- Both teams’ DHs were hitting in the No. 4 spot. That’s not really useful in any meaningful way, but it jumped out at me as unusual from the lineups.
- Cleveland has two guys in their lineup, Steven Kwan and José Ramírez, listed at 5’9”. Randy Newman had some observations about short people once upon a time.
- Is James Karinchak the first Cleveland player to wear #99 since Rick Vaughn? At any rate, since umps started cracking down on sticky stuff on hands, he hasn’t been so great. Just sayin’.
- Happy birthday to Della Reese, who would have turned 91 today. Born and raised in Detroit, she was a singer, actor and TV show host. People these days would probably best remember her work on the long-running TV show, Touched by an Angel.
This bit of Riley Greene fact-finding was prior to today’s game. Suffice it to say that the numbers look even better after another beatdown of the Guardians.