After surrendering a late lead to the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader at Comerica Park in Detroit, the Cleveland Indians pulled out all of the stops in the top of the ninth inning, and it paid off in the form of a run that proved to be the difference in the game.
The Indians sent three pinch hitters to the plate in the ninth inning, and it was the newest member of the team, Jay Bruce, who smashed a one-out triple to the wall in right-center field and came around to score the game-winning run on a single to center field off the bat of shortstop Francisco Lindor in a 3-2 win over the Tigers (58-75).
With their eighth straight victory, the Indians (77-56) increased their lead to seven games over the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central Division standings.
The Indians missed several opportunities to push across a run early in the game, but broke through in the top of the fifth inning.
With one out, right fielder Brandon Guyer reached on an infield single to second base, and later, moved into scoring position when catcher Yan Gomes drove an 0-1 pitch from left-handed Tigers starter Matthew Boyd into right field.
Then, on the first pitch from Boyd, third baseman Giovanny Urshela roped an RBI single into right field, and that drove in Guyer for the first run of the game.
The Indians went on to load the bases with one out when Lindor fouled off four straight pitches, and later, fought his way to a walk. However, the Indians could not come through with another hit as center fielder Austin Jackson struck out swinging and second baseman Jose Ramirez flied out to right field for the final out of the inning.
Although the Tigers tied the score at 1-1 when shortstop Jose Iglesias drove in catcher James McCann with a two-out RBI double to center field, the Indians retook the lead with just one swing of the bat from Encarnacion in the top of the sixth inning.
Facing reliever Drew VerHagen to lead off the sixth inning, Encarnacion blasted a 1-0 pitch into the seats in left field for his team-leading 32nd home run of the season. Encarnacion’s 12th go-ahead home run of the season tied him for fourth in the American League, and the 20 go-ahead RBI rank tied for sixth.
The Tigers once again got two-out production and drew even with the Indians in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Brought on in relief, Bryan Shaw struck out second baseman Ian Kinsler and designated hitter Miguel Cabrera swinging, but gave up singles to right fielder Alex Presley and third baseman Nicholas Castellanos after the respective punch-outs, and that forced manager Terry Francona to go to closer Cody Allen for a potential four-out save.
However, left fielder Mikie Mahtook hit a slow-rolling RBI single off of Allen that kicked off the heel of Lindor’s glove and knotted the game at 2-2.
Then, after the Indians took the lead in the top half of the ninth inning, the Tigers loaded the bases with three singles off of Allen. However, side-armer Joe Smith came into the game and got Cabrera to line out to Lindor at shortstop for the final out of the game.
Although starter Carlos Carrasco did not factor into the decision because of Detroit’s run in the eighth inning, he delivered for the Indians. Over seven innings of work, Carrasco scattered six hits, one earned run and did not surrender a walk to the Tigers.
Carrasco set down eight Tigers hitters on strikes in the win.
At the plate, Ramirez belted his Major League-leading 44th double of the season, and utility man Carlos Santana registered his 31st two-base hit of the season.
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