Tribe being swept by Tigers has a familiar feeling
JUN 22, 2014 7:03p ET
CLEVELAND -- Remember last summer when every time the Indians got within a couple games of the Tigers they would play one of their worst series of the year? This weekend was a real bad case of déjà vu.
Detroit came into Progressive Field and swept the Tribe. It was topped off by a 10-4 thrashing on Sunday as the Tigers broke it open with a seven-run fifth.
For those who remembered the beating Oakland put on Cleveland in a weekend series here last month, this one was worse considering how many people came out. The three games against the Tigers drew 100,280, which is the first time in nearly three years that they have drawn over 100,000 for a weekend series.
The Indians never led during the weekend and all of their shortcomings were on abundant display in this series. They committed three errors on Sunday, including two in the fifth, and have 77 on the season. In both cases it was the player looking ahead to try and complete a double play instead of concentrating on the immediate task of getting the first out.
Asdrubal Cabrera, who leads A.L. shortstops with 14 errors, didn't field Jason Kipnis' throw cleanly on a fielder's choice and Michael Bourn lost track of a Victor Martinez fly ball. Both of those were early in an inning where Detroit sent 12 up to bat. The floodgates really opened when J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos had two-run doubles.
"Against that lineup if you give them extra opportunities the first decent chance they get they are going to take advantage," Terry Francona said. "If we can score a couple early we're back in it but they blew it back open and we helped them. They don't need the help."
Cleveland trailed 2-0 going into the inning but had their chances in the first and third. They had runners at first and second both times but could not advance them further. The Tribe was 3 for 11 with runners in scoring position on Sunday but 5 for 26 in the series and 10 for 46 during the six-game homestand.
After struggling for nearly a month and going 9-20 at one stretch, the Tigers have regained their stride by winning four straight and moving back into the lead in the AL Central. The starting pitchers -- Rick Porcello, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer -- gave up only three earned runs in 19 innings. During the May series, where the Tribe posted a three-game sweep, Detroit's starters allowed 15 runs in 18 innings.
The middle of the Tigers' lineup also feasted as Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez combined to go 14 of 37 with four home runs, three doubles and 13 RBI. Cabrera, who had the go-ahead double in the 10th inning on Saturday, put Detroit on the board with a solo home run in the first on Sunday and drove in the first three runs.
The middle of the Cleveland lineup was 10 of 40. Carlos Santana was 5 for 14 with a pair of home runs as his batting average is above the Mendoza Line for the first time since the second week of the season while Michael Brantley was 3 for 5 with three RBI on Sunday. It was a bad weekend for Jason Kipnis, who had just one hit in 14 at-bats. Kipnis though was able to sum up the weekend perfectly.
"They are one of those teams, not to word it badly, but they can just kind of show up and win on talent. They have players that are that good," he said. "When you have the middle of the order with Victor and Miggy you are going to get good at-bats and get runs. Not to deflate anyone that we have here but we don't have guys like that here but we know that.
"We can't just show up and win. We have to do the little things, play defense, pitch well and hit well when we have runners on base. If we don't have that going you can where games like this today happen but at the same time when we have that going and that's how we're going to win games. We have to get back to that."
They also need to get back to that when playing in the division. The Indians have lost eight straight when playing their Central rivals -- three in Chicago last month, a pair in Kansas City a couple weeks ago and this series.
The saving grace out of all this is that the division remains one of the tightest in baseball as there is only a seven-game gap between first and last. The Indians are also mimicking the other teams. Kansas City won 10 straight and has now dropped its last four while the White Sox have also had their run of streaks.
"It's June. Is it disappointing? Of course. We just got swept at home but at the same time we swept them here (last month) and look where they are now. It goes to show you how long the season is and how tight the division is. If you drop a couple you fall to fourth place and if you win five in a row you are back in first or second. That's how it is going to be going around the whole season. As long as we stay afloat and kind of get going at the end we think we can finish the same way it did last year."
The Indians (37-39) have Monday off, which comes at the right time, before starting an eight-game trip out West. It starts off with two in Arizona.