CLEVELAND -- One bad inning from the bullpen proved costly for the Cleveland Indians against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field Sunday night.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Tigers (39-48) plated three runs, which led to a 5-3 win over the Indians (47-40) and prevented a three-game sweep heading into the four-day break for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.
Despite the loss, the Indians maintain a 2.5-game lead over the Minnesota Twins and three-game edge over the Kansas City Royals in the American League Central Division standings heading into the All-Star Game break.
The sixth inning started with a five-pitch walk to Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, and after a fielder’s choice from right fielder J.D. Martinez, designated hitter Victor Martinez singled to right. Then, Indians reliever Nick Goody loaded the bases with a four-pitch walk to third baseman Nicholas Castellanos.
The Indians pulled Goody and put in Dan Otero, but that did little to stop the surge, as center fielder Alex Presley doubled to left and drove in both J.D. and Victor Martinez. Then, shortstop Jose Iglesias legged out an infield single and plated Castellanos for the third run of the inning.
The Tigers added another run in the top of the seventh inning when Castellanos singled home J.D. Martinez, who got a base hit to center field with one out.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead over the Indians in the top of the third inning.
After Castellanos and Presley went down on a swinging third strike and a ground out to the pitcher’s mound respectively, they got two consecutive hits off of Indians starter Corey Kluber, which led to the game’s first run.
Iglesias doubled to left field on a 1-1 pitch from Kluber. All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley hustled after the sharply-hit ball, but it snuck under his glove and rolled an extra 15 feet to the wall, which made it a stand-up double.
Then, second baseman Ian Kinsler followed with a line-drive single to center field and brought around Iglesias.
Although the Tigers got the first run on the board, the Indians had a response in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Center fielder Bradley Zimmer led off with a single to right field off of Tigers starter Michael Fulmer, and then, he was safe at second base on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt.
Following a groundout that moved Zimmer over to third base, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion belted a double to left field, and his 48th run batted in of the season knotted the score at 1-1.
After getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fifth inning, Kluber was pulled from the game.
Kluber’s streak of consecutive games with at least 10 strikeouts came to an end, as he struck out eight with three hits and one earned run allowed over five innings of work. Kluber threw 101 pitches, and only 61 of them found the strike zone.
The Indians fought their way back into the game with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and their four straight hits drove Fulmer from the game.
Encarnacion started the rally with a single to right field, and then, third baseman Jose Ramirez belted a 3-2 pitch into the seats in right for his 17th home run of the season, which continued to add onto his single-season career best.
Then, pinch hitter Brandon Guyer and first baseman Carlos Santana followed with back-to-back singles to right field. However, after reliever Shane Greene entered the game for Detroit, he got three straight outs to end the threat.
Once again, the Indians had a chance to rally in the bottom of the eighth inning, but a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded and two outs short-circuited the comeback attempt.