Twenty-three final thoughts after the Indians recorded their first doubleheader sweep in Detroit since 1966.
1. Judging from the reaction after I posted that fact on Twitter, the magnitude seemed almost unfathomable to fans. In 1966, the Indians’ leading hitters were Rocky Colavito, Leon Wagner, Max Alvis and Vic Davalillo. That’s not just a generation ago, but another era of baseball.
2. The Indians have swept the last four doubleheaders between the two clubs. The Tribe (50-47) improved to three games above .500 and moved into second place in the AL Central Division, 4.5 games behind the Tigers.
3. Is the tide turning against a team that dominated the Indians last year, going 15-4? This season the Indians are 7-4 against the Tigers, 4-1 at Comerica Park.
4. Perhaps that’s the case, because there were some numbers that didn’t add up Saturday, at least when it came to outfielder Chris Dickerson. The Indians acquired Dickerson in a July 7 trade with the Pirates after Michael Bourn (hamstring) went on the disabled list.
5. Coming into the nightcap, Dickerson was 0 for 9 with seven strikeouts against 2013 Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer in his career. Yet Dickerson hit solo home runs to right field off Scherzer in the third and sixth innings. Dickerson said one pitch was a slider, the other a changeup.
6. “I could tell by his body language that he wasn't too thrilled with his command tonight, but any time you face Max, you're going to be in for one. I know he owns me,” Dickerson said. “You kind of pick a zone at the plate and make an approach that's to your strengths. I think that's what everybody did tonight. With a guy like Max on the mound, you're just going to have to scrap. Bloop hits. Get them over. Bunts. Whatever it takes. We did all of it. It was a team effort.”
7. Dickerson faced Scherzer six times last season when he was with the Orioles, three times in 2008 when he played for the Reds. Asked what Scherzer had done to him, Dickerson said, “Everything. Everything. When he was in Arizona, it was 95-97, on the corners, sliders, changeups. Last year it was the same thing. I had a hat trick here last year, changeups and just 97 on the black. Still, whenever I bring up best pitchers in the game, guys who I struggle with, Max is at the top. Every time I face him, he's just on.”
8. Asked if he prepared any differently for Saturday, Dickerson said, “I got some extra sleep.”
9. Dickerson tried to divert attention to first baseman Carlos Santana, whose three-run double in the ninth inning off closer Joe Nathan was the game-winner. Santana came to the plate with the bases loaded and two out after the Tigers intentionally walked Michael Brantley to get to him. Santana was 0 for 6 for the day when he came up, 0 for 4 in the game.
10. Santana said it didn’t anger him that the Tigers thought Brantley was more dangerous. “No, no, I’m so happy. I want to hit in this situation all the time,” Santana said as his son Carlos David played with Asdrubal Cabrera’s son Meyer in the clubhouse. It was Santana’s sixth game-winning RBI of the season. “Michael’s having a good year and he’s the best hitter in the lineup right now. I made it happen, I concentrated.”
11. Asked his approach at the plate, Santana said, “I’m thinking in the middle and try to get good contact. I don’t try to get a big hit or think home run.”
12. The ball hit off the top of the wall in right center field, just missing a home run. “It’s a big park,” Santana said. “I knew it was good contact. I didn’t know if the ball is out.”
13. As for his reaction, Santana said, “Happy, happy. All of my teammates give me high-fives. We play every day and I try to win every game. Detroit, they have a good team and they have the Central Division, so I need to try to make it good. Good game.”
14. It was also a good game from right-hander Carlos Carrasco (3-3, 3.67) who pitched the eighth and picked up the win. Carrasco faced the heart of the Tigers order and struck out Miguel Cabrera on an 87 mph pitch, got Victor Martinez to ground out to the shortstop against a shift and induced a groundout to second from J.D. Martinez.
15. “There was nowhere to really put anybody and he went right through the middle of it and was tremendous,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He's earning more responsbility, for sure.”
16. No one was happier about Santana’s game-winner than second baseman Jason Kipnis, whose botched double play in the seventh inning allowed the Tigers to tie the game 2-2. The Tigers’ Eugenio Suarez hit a bouncer to short and Alex Avila was forced at second, but Kipnis couldn’t get the relay throw out of his glove and Suarez was safe at first. Austin Jackson followed with an RBI triple off the wall in right center field.
17. “It was a great feed (from shortstop Mike Aviles), it was just my fault, I just botched it a little bit,” Kipnis said. “Double-clutched, just missed the ball when it got caught in the webbing. It happens. Unfortunate at that time, welcome to the game of baseball, they’re going to hit a triple in the gap the very next hitter. I screwed that up, could have bailed us out and Santana picked me up later. Nobody was happier about Santana’s hit than me.”
18. Francona seemed pleased with the start of right-hander Zach McAllister, called up from Triple-A Columbus as the 26th man allowed for the doubleheader. McAllister gave up one run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out six. His three consecutive walks in the second forced in a run.
19. “I thought he had a lot of life on his fastball,” Francona said. “I think that's why he was able to [go as long as he did]. Besides that one inning he kind of got out of sync, he had the three walks, and fortunately only gave up one run. But, other than that, I thought his fastball had a ton of life.”
20. McAllister’s outing gave the Indians another option if Justin Masterson’s rehab start in Triple-A Columbus doesn’t go well today. In fact, it could convince the Indians to give more time to Masterson, on the 15-day disabled list with right knee inflammation.
21. McAllister survived the embarrassment of having his leg buckle as he threw about a 4-foot pitch to Don Kelly in the second inning. Francona and the trainer came out to check on McAllister, but he managed to retire Kelly on a fly ball to center.
22. “It was more my back leg gave out on me,” McAllister said. “It didn’t want to drive and push off. I should have just held on to the ball and taken the balk. I made it look worse than it really was.”
23. McAllister was laughing afterward and said the awkward moment didn’t contribute to the walks. “You have to,” he said. “This game is a lot of fun. When something like that happens you have to laugh at yourself.”