The Tigers spotted their ace Justin Verlander an early lead and he and the Tigers corner infield defense (there’s something you don’t hear too often) kept the Indians off the scoreboard as the Tigers shutout the Indians 4-0 in the first of the final 12 games at Progressive Field for the 2012 season.
Memories of what could have been. At one point during the 2012 season the fact that the Indians schedule included 12 of their final 18 games at Progressive Field was viewed as a favorable variable that potentially could benefit the Indians in their quest for either the AL Central Division title or one of the two AL wild cards. This imagery was never more clear than it was after the Indians came back to defeat Justin Verlander to take 2 out of 3 from the Tigers in front of 34,579 on July 26th to move within 3.5 games of first place.
On that night Verlander entered the 7th inning with a 3-1 lead but saw the lead erased after back to back homers by Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner. The Indians went on to add 2 more runs in the inning to take a 5-3 lead which they turned to Vinnie Pestano to work the eighth and Chris Perez to close out the ninth to preserve the victory. The game had a mid-October feel to it and the crowd was on their feet seemingly for every pitch over the final two innings. Remarkably the Indians had to wait 11 games to taste victory again and by that time they had fallen to 50-60 and were 10.5 games out of first and their season was for all practical purposes over.
Watching the game on Friday evening was a painful reminder of what could have been. The fall classic feeling was not in the air, their wasn’t a large Friday night crowd nervously sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to release their nervous energy at the first sign of something positive, and their was no on-air discussion of what is happening in other cities that may affect the Indians playoff chances.
Entering that July 26th start Justin Verlander had a record of 11-5 and an ERA of 2.45 and had held the opposition to a batting average against of .193. Since that memorable evening in July he has not been the same dominating pitcher posting a record of 2-2 with a 4.95 ERA and the opposition had a .263 bating average against. The perfect elixir to whatever had ailed him was a Cleveland Indians lineup full of AAA players Ezequiel Carrera, Russ Canzler, and Matt LaPorta.
Verlander picked up the win to improve his record to 14-8 2.82 ERA by dominating the Indians recording 7 shutout innings allowing 6 hits while striking out 6 and walking only 1. Joaquin Benoit came in to work a scoreless eighth and Jose Valverde came in to work a scoreless ninth . The win improves the Tigers record to 76-67 and they remain 1 game behind the division leading Chicago White Sox who defeated the Minnesota Twins 6-0. The Tigers move to 4.5 games behind the New York Yankees for the final wild card spot as the Yankees were defeated by the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4.
Corey Kluber took the loss to drop his record to 1-4 5.48 ERA by giving up 4R/ER on 8 hits while striking out 5 and walking 2. The Indians received 2 solid scoreless innings from both Chris Seddon and Frank Herrmann. The loss drops the Indians record to 60-85 and they remain tied with the Twins for last place in the AL Central.
The Tigers increased their lead to 4-0 in the 2nd inning. Alex Avila walked to lead off the inning and was in motion and advanced safely to second base on an Omar Infante groundout and scored on a RBI double by Austin Jackson. With 2-out Miguel Cabrera lined a RBI single back up the middle to score Jackson and gave the Tigers 4th run.
The Tigers were unable to score after the second inning but the Indians, who had several opportunities, were unable to deliver a key hit and were thwarted by two nice defensive plays by Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera.
The Good: Canzler’s Defense, Chisenhall’s Offense, Indians Bullpen
- Russ Canzler threw a strike to Carlos Santana to nail Johnny Peralta trying to score on a 2-out single by Brennan Boesch. The throw from Canzler reached Santana in the air to easily nail Peralta.
- Lonnie Chisenhall continues to show why he has such a promising future by delivering 2 hits including a double against Justin Verlander.
- Chris Seddon and Frank Herrmann combined to deliver 4 scoreless innings without allowing a hit while striking out 5 and walking none. The duo combined to retire all 12 hitters they faced.
The Bad: Scoring Opportunities Lost & Jason Donald Injured
- In the bottom of the fifth the Indians had runners at 2nd and 3rd with nobody out after a lead off single by Casey Kotchman and a double by Lonnie Chisenhall but were unable to score. Matt LaPorta grounded back to Verlander, Ezequiel Carrera struck out, and Jason Donald hit a grounder to Prince Fielder who made a nice diving stop and throw to Verlander covering first to end the inning.
- In the bottom of the sixth inning the Indians had runners at 2nd and 3rd with 1-out but failed to score after Russ Canzler flew out to shallow right field and Casey Kotchman grounded out to a diving Miguel Cabrera to end the inning.
- Jason Donald stepped into a Justin Verlander 95 mph fastball and his wrist absorbed the impact. Donald left the game for x-rays.
The Huh?: Cory Kluber once again struggled in the first inning surrendering 4 hits to the 7 batters he faced and the Tigers capitalized by taking a 2-0 lead. Entering tonight”s action Kluber had allowed the opposition to hit .439 (18-46) in the first inning.