CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians’ latest loss marked yet another bizarre twist in a season that’s been spinning out of control for nearly two months.
Cleveland, which didn’t record a hit for 6 2-3 innings against Anibal Sanchez, rallied for two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth before dropping a 5-3 decision to Detroit on Saturday.
The Indians, who are 10-37 since July 26, were officially eliminated from the playoffs on a day where the crowd of 22,849 at Progressive Field featured more Tigers fans than customers who were rooting for the home team.
“It’s been a trying season,” said Indians starter Justin Masterson, who got the loss. “This has been a testament to our season in general with things that can get out of hand.”
The embarrassment of being no-hit has been the only negative thing the Indians have avoided, but Sanchez appeared to be closing in on history until Carlos Santana tripled off the wall in center with two outs in the seventh.
“I had a good approach,” Santana said. “The first two at-bats I was trying to pull the ball, but I decided to look to the middle of the field.”
Santana drove a 3-2 pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark. Center fielder Austin Jackson raced to the wall and tried for a leaping catch, but the ball bounced off the fence and rolled onto the outfield grass, allowing the slow-footed Santana to record his first triple of the season.
Rookie Russ Canzler broke up the shutout with an RBI double and Lonnie Chisenhall singled him home, ending the day for Sanchez (3-5). Phil Coke came on and struck out pinch hitter Matt LaPorta to end the rally.
Asdrubal Cabrera made it 5-3 with an RBI single in the eighth, after striking out three times in his return after missing four games with a sore right wrist.
Sanchez had a perfect game until hitting Shin-Soo Choo in the leg with a pitch to open the fourth. Cleveland got close to a hit with two outs in the sixth. No. 9 hitter Lou Marson grounded a ball up the middle that second baseman Omar Infante fielded behind the bag. Infante, acquired in a July 23 deal along with Sanchez from the Miami Marlins, whirled and made an off-balance throw that was picked by first baseman Prince Fielder at his feet.
Hitters from both teams struggled in the early innings with the shadows around home plate caused by the late-afternoon start.
“He threw the ball very well,” Acta said of Sanchez. “It’s tough to see in 4 o’clock games, but I’m not going to take anything away from him. He had a very good changeup. He can use it at any time in the count. He’s one of those guys who pitches.”
Justin Masterson (11-14) lasted only 4 2-3 innings, allowing four runs, six hits and four walks. Detroit scored twice in the first, with the first run coming without a hit. Two of the runs Masterson gave up were unearned.
“I haven’t done the job I’m supposed to do,” he said. “That’s what has gotten where we’re at.”
Detroit got only one run instead of two in the fifth for a 4-0 lead when Alex Avila missed touching third while trying to score from second base.
With two outs, and Avila on second after an RBI double off Masterson, Quintin Berry hit a ball into the hole at shortstop, where Asdrubal Cabrera fielded it and threw to third to try and get Avila advancing. The wild throw sent Avila home and Berry to second.
Cleveland changed pitchers and reliever Tony Sipp stepped off the rubber and threw to third on an appeal as Berry broke for the bag in an attempted steal. Third-base ump Wally Bell ordered Berry back. The appeal happened again, with Berry again running, and this time Bell signaled out and took the run off the board.
“We didn’t see it right off the bat,” Acta said. “One of our coaches went down to watch a video and we found out through that. The pitching change gave us time to appeal the play.”
Detroit stayed one game behind the first place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central with its fourth straight win. Jose Valverde, the fourth Tigers pitcher, worked the ninth for his 31st save in 35 chances.
Sanchez, who was 5-7 with the Marlins before the trade this year, threw a no-hitter as a rookie six years ago. In just his 13th career start, he struck out six in a 2-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 6, 2006.
NOTES: X-rays were negative on Indians INF Jason Donald’s right wrist. He was hit by a pitch from Detroit ace RHP Justin Verlander on Friday night. … OF Michael Brantley (sore pectoral muscle) didn’t start for the third straight game, but flied out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. … Indians rookie RHP Cody Allen struck out all five batters he faced in relief. … Tigers OF Delmon Young, who is 3-for-20 lifetime against Masterson, didn’t start. He struck out as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded in the seventh.