DETROIT — Rubbing out tough defeats has been a trait of the Detroit Tigers all season long.
They will have to rub out two in a row Monday against a Cleveland Indians team eager to clinch the American League Central Division title with just one more win.
“I'm very adept at forgetting the last game,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said the morning after Saturday's tough 7-4 loss to Kansas City, which the Royals accomplished by scoring five times with two out in the ninth. “In my mind it's going to be a dogfight all the way in here.
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“The truth is we probably weren't going to win out the rest of the games that we played. It's not a great way to lose a game but at the end of the day it doesn't matter how you lose; you just lost. And you move on, try to win the next game.”
Cleveland could have clinched the division title Sunday by winning but it dropped a 2-0 verdict to the visiting Chicago White Sox, getting just two hits in the game.
“The itinerary says go to Detroit,” Indians' manager Terry Francona said. “We go where they tell us and play who they tell us. So we'll go there and try to win.”
“It's disappointing,” said Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin, who pitched well but took a loss. “We'd rather do it here (in Cleveland) than on the road, but we ran into a pretty good pitcher (Carlos Rodon, who struck out 11 and allowed two hits in eight innings) who had all his stuff working. Sometimes you just have tough luck. Now we've got to go on the road and get it done.”
The Tigers are a team peopled with veteran players steeped in the ups and downs of the long baseball season and who pass on their even-keel mentality to the youngsters on the team.
Detroit lost Saturday, giving up five runs with two out in the ninth to lose, 7-4, but bounced back on offense with a 17-hit nine-run attack Sunday that also wasn't good enough to avoid a 12-9 loss to Kansas City, which had 19 hits including four home runs.
“We're going to fight the Cleveland Indians (Monday) and hopefully win,” Ausmus said. “And maybe somebody helps us on the other end.”
Cleveland has lost just twice to Detroit all season but one of those was the last time the two clubs met, a week ago in Cleveland.
The fifth starter spot has been a weakness for Detroit all season and now it turns to youngster Buck Farmer to get back on track a playoff push that is running out of time.
And he will be facing Cleveland's best starter, Cory Kluber (18-9, 3.11 ERA), who is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA in three starts against Detroit this season.
Kluber used to force-feed fastballs to the Tigers but this year has shown the ability to mix in more soft stuff and it's made his heater that much more effective.
For his career facing the Tigers, Kluber is 5-6 with a 3.74 ERA. He has started 16 times and relieved once.
Kluber is 8-4 with a 2.97 ERA in 15 road starts this year. In 14 starts going back to July 8 he is 10-1 with a 2.32 ERA and .208 opponent's batting average.
Farmer (0-0, 4.07 ERA) has started once in his career against the Indians but his making his second straight start in turn for the Tigers. He threw 2 2/3 scoreless inning at Minnesota, a game that was rained out before he could complete the third.
He is 0-1 lifetime with a 7.20 ERA in three appearances against Cleveland.