CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians completed a three-game sweep of the Tigers in dominating fashion on Thursday, shutting out Detroit by the final of 7-0 at Progressive Field. The Tribe improved to 18-1 against the Tigers in 2019, with 17 consecutive victories, which equals a franchise record set against Baltimore in 1954.
More importantly, the win over Detroit puts the Tribe back into a tie with the Tampa Bay Rays for the final American League Wild Card spot with just nine games left in the season.
Mike Clevinger worked six scoreless innings to pick up his 12th win of the season. Franmil Reyes hit his 35th homer of the year for the Tribe, while Francisco Lindor added three hits. Yasiel Puig and Roberto Perez each had two hits, with Perez driving home two runs.
The shutout win for the Indians was their 15th of the season, tying the Dodgers for the most in Major League Baseball.
Follow our time-stamped updates throughout the game below:
10:15 P.M. - A LOOK AHEAD TO THE FINAL NINE GAMES
Following tonight's game, the Indians will have nine games remaining in the regular season, as do the Oakland A's and the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Wild Card race. Assuming the Indians don't blow a 7-0 lead as we head into the 9th inning, they will move into a tie with the Rays for the second Wild Card spot.
Here's how the schedule shapes out the rest of the way:
Cleveland: 3 at home vs. Phillies, 3 at Chicago White Sox, 3 at Washington
Oakland: 3 at home vs. Texas, 2 at Los Angeles Angels, 4 at Seattle
Tampa Bay: 4 at home vs. Boston, 2 vs. New York Yankees, 3 at Toronto
On paper, you'd have to say the easiest of the three schedules belongs to Oakland, who already has a cushion. The Rays get six home games with the Red Sox, who are out of the playoff race, and the Yankees, who have already clinched the AL East title, but are locked in a struggle with the Astros for the best record in the American League and home field advantage.
While the Phillies and White Sox are out of their respective races, the Nationals will likely be playing for a playoff berth when they welcome in the Tribe for the final weekend of the regular season. So you can argue that the Indians will essentially be starting the postseason once they get into Nationals Park.
9:44 P.M. - MIKE CLEVINGER DEPARTS AFTER SIX SCORELESS INNINGS
As we head to the seventh inning at Progressive Field, Tribe starter Mike Clevinger's night is over. The right-hander worked six scoreless innings, allowing seven hits, one walk, with six strikeouts. He's in line to pick up his 12th win of the season with the Indians ahead 7-0. Tyler Clippard is now on for Cleveland.
I was reading Gabe Lacques' profile of Clevinger in USA TODAY. There's some fascinating stuff about the 28-year-old. Keep this in mind from Lacques: If the Indians have to win Game 162 to get into the postseason, that lines up perfectly with Clevinger's turn in the rotation. Otherwise, he would be good to pitch the Wild Card game or a play-in game. Regardless, the Indians are going to be counting on both he and Shane Bieber to lead this rotation with Corey Kluber still hurt and Carlos Carrasco working out of the bullpen.
9:16 P.M. - THE ENDLESS FIFTH INNING RESULTS IN TWO MORE RUNS
The Indians weren't done after the Mercado RBI single in the 5th inning as Roberto Perez hit a bases-loaded, two-run single to stretch out the Tribe's lead over Detroit to 7-0. Perez fouled off a couple of tough pitches by Edwin Jackson before coming through with the single.
8:59 P.M. - THE HITS KEEP ON COMING
The top of the Tribe order struck for more damage against the Tigers in the fifth inning. Francisco Lindor led off with a double, his second of the night. Oscar Mercado followed with an RBI single up the middle to pad the Indians' lead to 5-0. Lindor is 3-for-3 tonight.
8:33 P.M. - INDIANS OFFENSE ERUPTS
The Tigers made a pitching change to start the bottom of the fourth inning, bringing in RHP Drew VerHagen. Detroit has done the tag-team pitching combination of Daniel Norris and Drew VerHagen in the past, most recently for seven shutout innings, with five strikeouts against Baltimore on Sept. 14.
It didn't work out so well this time.
Carlos Santana singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on an RBI double by Yasiel Puig to put the Tribe up 2-0. Two batters later, Franmil Reyes launched a 433-foot blast to the bleachers in left field for his 35th homer of the season and suddenly, the Indians moved out to a 4-0 lead.
8:24 P.M. - JORDAN LUPLOW DAZZLES AGAIN
After gunning down Grayson Greiner in the second inning, Tribe left fielder Jordan Luplow delivered another great defensive play in the fourth inning. Jordy Mercer hit a line shot that appeared to be falling for a base hit. Luplow made a sensational diving grab for the out. The Indians continue to hold a 1-0 lead.
8:12 P.M. - WE GO TO THE VIDEOTAPE
The Indians were unable to take advantage of a possible gift by the umpires and MLB replay crew in the bottom of the third inning. After Mike Freeman hit a one-out single to right, Francisco Lindor was called safe on a bang-bang grounder on the left side of the infield. I thought that replay showed Frankie was out by a nose, but the replay crew decided there wasn't conclusive enough evidence to overturn the umpire's decision.
My favorite part of the sequence? The Indians PR staff letting us know that the replay review time was exactly two minutes and 39 seconds.
It all ended up being moot after Oscar Mercado hit into an inning-ending double play. The score remains 1-0 in favor of the Tribe as we head to the fourth.
8:01 P.M. - HOW ABOUT SOME DEFENSE?
In the second inning, Detroit catcher Grayson Greiner hit a towering drive to deep left field that ricocheted off of the wall. It looked like it was going to be an easy double, but Jordan Luplow had other ideas.
The Indians continue to hold a 1-0 lead as we make our way into the bottom of the third inning.
7:44 P.M. - INDIANS DRAW FIRST BLOOD
After Mike Clevinger tightrope-walked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first inning, the Tribe got on the board first in the bottom of the the inning. Francisco Lindor doubled, was moved over to third by an Oscar Mercado bunt, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana. The Tribe leads the Tigers 1-0 as we move to the second inning.
7:23 P.M. - SOME INTRIGUING NEWS AS THE GAME BEGINS
There was plenty of buzz when I arrived at Progressive Field about an hour before gametime. All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez took batting practice for the first time since breaking his hand last month.
The Tribe's infield is depleted with injuries to both Ramirez and Jason Kipnis, who we found out earlier this week will miss the rest of the season due to a broken bone in his wrist. It would be huge if Ramirez could be available to rejoin the Indians' lineup before the end of the season.
Consider this: In the 53 games Ramirez played before breaking his hand, he hit .325 with 15 homers, 47 RBIs and a 1.045 OPS.
PREGAME - The Tribe will have right-hander Mike Clevinger (11-3, 2.68 ERA) on the mound tonight. Despite having his 10-game winning streak snapped in his last start against the Twins, Clevinger is 10-1 with a 2.02 ERA, 118 strikeouts and 23 walks over his last 14 starts. Detroit will counter with lefty Daniel Norris (3-12, 4.62 ERA).
Cleveland will be looking to beat the Tigers for the 17th straight time this season, which would equal the franchise record set against Baltimore in 1954. The Indians are a staggering 17-1 against Detroit in 2019, outscoring them 109-38.
Both Tampa Bay and Oakland are idle tonight, so this is a prime opportunity for the Indians to gain ground on both teams in the Wild Card race.