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Indians sweep Tigers

By PAUL HOYNES • Updated Aug 29, 2019 at 4:34 PM

DETROIT — Mike Clevinger continued his dominance over American League Central Division opponents in August.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians did the same to their longtime rivals. The Tribe claimed their 14th straight victory against Detroit with a 2-0 win Thursday at Comerica Park.

Clevinger struck out 10 and held the Tigers to four hits in eight scoreless innings without a walk. It was his 10th career double-digit strikeout game and fifth this season. He retired seven of the last eight batters he faced, including five of those on strikes.

Offensively, Francisco Lindor continued his torrid month at the plate, providing all the offense Cleveland would need with a two-out solo home run in the third.

Brad Hand pitched a scoreless ninth for his fourth consecutive save and 33rd overall.

The Indians (79-55) swept the three game series against the Tigers, but again gained no ground in the AL Central Division standings as the Minnesota Twins (82-51) won their fifth straight game. Cleveland trails the Twins by 3.5 games.

In the AL Wild Card Game chase, the Indians lead Oakland (77-56) by 1.5 games for the home position, and lead the Rays (76-58) by 3 games for the second spot. Cleveland is at Tampa Bay this weekend.

Clevinger, who entered the game with the third-highest swing-and-miss percentage in baseball according to Statcast (36.5%), limited Detroit to four baserunners, including Victor Reyes, who singled in the sixth but was thrown out on a steal attempt by catcher Kevin Plawecki.

“He didn’t have an inning over 21 pitches and that was his last inning in the eighth,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He let one fly every once in a while up high, and he’d corral himself and come back down in the zone. He was really good. His fastball velocity stayed the same all game, and his breaking ball was really good. He just really pitched well.”

Clevinger picked up his seventh career win against the Tigers in 10 starts and improved to 6-0 against AL Central opponents with a 1.05 ERA in eight outings this year. He moved to 5-0 in his last six road starts and has not lost a decision since June 28 in Baltimore (9-0 in last 11 outings). Clevinger is 12-1 all-time in August starts, including 5-0 this season.

Lindor’s home run in the third was his 25th, giving him four in his last six games and homers in back-to-back contests for the first time since Aug. 3-4. He became the first Indians middle infielder with three consecutive seasons of at least 25 home runs and the first Tribe hitter to accomplish the feat since Travis Hafner (2004-06).

The home run also extended Lindor’s hitting streak to 11 games, tying him with Kansas City’s Nicky Lopez for the second-longest active streak in the majors.

“At some point, we’ll be talking about a lot more than that with him,” Francona said of Lindor. “I hope it’s this year. He has that ability and is a pretty special kid.”

Norris, who was on a pitch limit, exited after the third inning. He was spotted in the Tigers dugout with team trainers tending to a blister on his throwing hand.

Cleveland mounted another two-out rally in the fourth against reliever Drew VerHagen when rookie third baseman Yu Chang singled and second baseman Mike Freeman dropped a liner between Victor Reyes and Harold Castro in left center. Chang attempted to score from first on the play but was thrown out at the plate on a good relay from Tigers shortstop Willi Castro.

The Indians loaded the bases in the seventh when Greg Allen was hit by a pitch for the second consecutive game after singles by Chang and Plawecki.

Lindor then sent a towering 401-foot drive off VerHagento right center that would have resulted in a grand slam in seven other major league ballparks, including Progressive Field. But Harold Castro chased the ball down on the warning track as Mike Freeman tagged and scored from third, pushing the Indians’ advantage to two.

The sacrifice fly was Lindor’s fifth of the season and gave him 60 RBIs.

“It wasn’t easy. Give them (Detroit) a lot of credit,” Francona said. “They used four pitchers and they all seemed to get us out. But we got a win, and that’s what we showed up for today — and now we can move on.”

 

Up next

The Indians travel to Tampa Bay to begin a three-game weekend series against the Rays on Friday. Righty Shane Bieber (12-6, 3.23) takes the mound for Cleveland in the first game against a yet-to-be-determined opener for Tampa.

Bieber will be making his fourth career start against the Rays. He holds a 1-1 record with a 2.65 ERA all-time against Tampa Bay, including allowing one run on four hits with four walks and 10 strikeouts over five innings on May 24 at Progressive Field.

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