CLEVELAND: So starting pitching sets the tone, right? Not necessarily.
Justin Masterson and Doug Fister weren’t around long enough to make an impact. Blame Mother Nature for forcing the Indians and Tigers to live and die with their bullpens.
It took awhile, but the Tribe finally eked out a 3-2 win in 14 innings Tuesday night and Wednesday morning at Progressive Field.
David Pauley, the seventh pitcher of the night for the Tigers, began the 14th inning by striking out Jason Kipnis, but Asdrubal Cabrera followed by drawing a walk. Travis Hafner skipped a hard ground ball just out of the reach of second baseman Carlos Guillen for a single that sent Cabrera to third.
Carlos Santana received an intentional walk to load the bases and set up a possible force at every base, and the infield moved in as Kosuke Fukudome stepped to the plate. Pauley quickly got ahead 1-and-2 then hit Fukudome on the arm to force home the game-winning run at 1:52 a.m., six hours 46 minutes after the scheduled start time.
The winning pitcher was Frank Herrmann, the eighth Indians pitcher of the game. Herrmann worked the 13th and 14th, giving up leadoff walks each inning but nothing more.
In all, the Tribe bullpen pitched 12 scoreless innings, allowing six hits and three walks, while striking out 11.
The starting pitchers made only cameo appearances because of a two-hour, three-minute rain delay that began after the third out of the second inning.
Masterson gave up two, two-out singles in the first but was saved from further trouble by second bseman Kipnis, who made a diving stab of Victor Martinez’s sharp ground ball up the middle and threw to first for the third out.
But in the second, Masterson didn’t get off so easily. He gave up a leadoff single to Jhonny Peralta, who raced to third on Guillen’s single to left. Masterson dug the hole a little deeper by walking Alex Avila to load the bases. He settled down to retired Don Kelly on a slow bouncer to third, but Peralta scored and the remaining runners moved up a base. Austin Jackson also grounded out to drive in Guillen, but Masterson got the third out on a strikeout of Brennan Boesch.
The two-run second wiped out the Indians’ 2-0 advantage built on the strength of a rally in the first off Fister. Kipnis started it with a one-out double and scored on Cabrera’s single. After Hafner singled Cabrera to third, Santana brought in the second run with a sacrifice fly.
If the starters were a little shaky, relievers from both teams were rock solid through the seventh, which surely drew a big sigh of relief from both managers. With the bullpens having to work seven innings, one or both team’s relief corps easily could have been in rough shape for tonight’s game.
Chad Durbin gave up only one hit in three innings, getting the Tribe through the fifth. Duane Below did Durbin one better, delivering four hitless innings for the Tigers, walking none and striking out three. Rafael Perez lived on the edge in the sixth, giving up two singles to put runners on first and third with one out, but he held the tie.
The deadlock continued through the eighth, with Daniel Schlereth pitching two innings, and Tony Sipp and Vinnie Pestano combining to hold Detroit in the seventh and eighth.
Two unsuccessful bunts ensured that neither team would score. After Sipp gave up a leadoff single by Avila in the seventh, Ramon Santiago popped up a bunt that Sipp caught and relayed to first to double up Avila.
Schlereth was in more serious trouble in the eighth, after giving up a leadoff double to Jason Donald, pinch hitting for Lonnie Chisenhall.
Ezequiel Carrera’s ground out to the right side moved Donald to third, and on a 1-and-1 pitch to Michael Brantley, Donald broke for home on a suicide squeeze attempt. One problem: Schlereth delivered a slider low and away, a tough pitch to bunt, and Brantley missed it. Donald was tagged out easily to end the threat.
Phil Coke took care of the ninth for the Tigers, and Pestano did the same for the Tribe. Chris Perez and Joe Smith followed by throwing three scoreless innings.