Derek Lowe struggled with his command and Asdrubal Cabrera made a pair of costly errors Wednesday night as the Tigers evened the series with a 5-3 win over Cleveland. The loss drops the Indians back to .500 (49-49) and increases Detroit and Chicago’s lead of the Tribe to four games.
The Tigers drew first blood in the top of the first. Austin Jackson and Quintin Berry led off the game with back-to-back singles and Miguel Cabrera followed with a run-scoring base hit of his own as Detroit got on the board before Lowe recorded a single out. The damage continued in the top of the second, when Asdrubal Cabrera erred on two consecutive ground balls off the bats of Omar Infante and Austin Jackson; two runs scored when the inning should have been over and the Tigers opened up a 3-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Indians were helpless to respond until the third. Johnny Damon worked Detroit starter Max Scherzer for a leadoff walk before Casey Kotchman drilled Scherzer’s 1-0 pitch into the right field stands for a two-run home run. Shin-Soo Choo doubled and Jason Kipnis walked to try to extend the rally, but nothing came of it after Kotchman’s blast.
The Tigers added a pair of runs in the middle innings. Lowe walked the first three batters he faced in the top of the fifth to bring up Prince Fielder with nobody out and the bases loaded; he was fortunate that Fielder’s sacrifice fly was all Detroit could manage. The Tigers added another insurance run in the sixth via a Quintin Berry RBI single. Meanwhile, Scherzer and Joaquin Benoit kept the Tribe’s bats at bay through the eighth inning. Travis Hafner took closer Jose Valverde deep for a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth, but it was too little too late as the Tigers won 5-3.
The Good: It’s always good to see Travis Hafner and Casey Kotchman go yard, and while the results didn’t show it Cleveland hitters did a great job of taking Max Scherzer deep into the count. Also, newcomer Cody Allen and the struggling Tony Sipp combined to throw two scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
The Bad: Derek Lowe didn’t have it at all. He gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits in six innings, walking three—all of which came consecutively in the fifth inning—while hitting a batter and striking out only one. Asdrubal Cabrera’s errors didn’t help and he was able to get out of a lot of tight spots, but it’s a bad sign that he got into so many jams in the first place.
The “Huh?”: Derek Lowe really labored through the fifth inning; he walked three straight batters to start it off, and he was extremely fortunate to give up only one run. So why send him out again in the sixth inning in a 4-2 game? The run he allowed in the sixth didn’t end up mattering, but why risk letting a close game get out of reach?
Interesting Tidbit: Johnny Damon has now appeared in 60 games this year, but Wednesday was just the 26th time that he had played a complete game. We don’t know how Manny Acta will use Brent Lillibridge yet, but that rate might increase now that Aaron Cunningham is gone.