CLEVELAND: If the Indians aren’t just a little demoralized by the last two games, they should be.
The Tigers won again Saturday 9-4 at Progressive Field. The visitors came out on top Friday night, too, by a 7-0 score.
So far this season, the Tribe has won two out of 10 against the Central Division leaders, and if there were any mercy in the world of baseball, the commissioner wouldn’t allow the Wobbly Wahoos to be subjected to more abuse by their lodge brothers from the north.
But alas, the teams play eight more times before the season concludes. To date, the Tribe has been outscored 68-37.
It would be an understatement to call the Indians’ last two games mismatches. A fan unfamiliar with the faces that go with the uniform numbers of Tribe players would swear the Tigers were playing against a team of local college kids.
“We’re definitely not intimidated by the Tigers,” Jason Kipnis said. “We just came up flat the last two games. The pressure is on them. They’re the ones who were in the World Series; they’re the ones with the big contracts.”
There often are instances of one team dominating another beyond all reason.
“I don’t think we feel like that,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We’ll show up tomorrow. Certainly, they’ve had their way with us, and we need to play better.”
How thoroughly have the Tigers dominated the Indians in the first two of this four-game series?
On Saturday, Miguel Cabrera whacked a two-run homer in the third, Prince Fielder followed him and also went deep. After a period of relative competitiveness (1⅔ innings), Torii Hunter unloaded on Matt Albers for a two-run blast in the sixth inning.
The home runs hit by Cabrera and Fielder came off Carlos Carrasco, who gave up four consecutive hits in the third after Austin Jackson led off with a double and Hunter lined out to center.
Carrasco was as ill-equipped to stop the Tigers as Paris Hilton would be of winning a hot dog eating contest (“Ew, the mustard is sooo icky.”).
In 3⅓ innings, Carrasco (0-4, 9.10 ERA) gave up seven runs (six earned). Of 10 hit he allowed, six went for extra bases.
“The Tigers are good hitters,” Carrasco said. “That’s all I can say.”
Carrasco has made only six starts this year but has had the misfortune to face the Tigers twice, giving up 12 earned runs and 20 hits in 7⅓ innings.
“I thought today Carlos had excellent stuff to start the game,” Francona said. “He made a really bad pitch to Cabrera, a breaking ball right down the middle.”
Confirmed Carrasco: “I think I missed with that pitch. It was supposed to be a slider down and away, but it came out flat and in the middle.”
On Saturday, he also committed an error that contributed to a three-run Detroit rally in the fourth. With runners on first and second and nobody out, Ramon Santiago laid down a sacrifice bunt that Carrasco fielded.
He looked toward third and decided he had a chance to force the Andy Dirks sprinting from second. Instead, Carrasco heaved the ball past Lonnie Chisenhall as one run scored and two runners put themselves in scoring position, from where they also scored.
“Lonnie was in too far to get back to the bag in time,” Francona said. “Carlos threw it, anyway, and everything spiraled from there.”
Teams always appear to be lost at sea when their starting pitcher fails early. But certainly that’s more likely to happen when the Tigers are the opposing team rather than, say, the White Sox or Astros.
The Indians remain the Central Division’s second-place team, falling 3½ games behind Detroit. But the chasm between the teams looks considerably deeper than that when they have played one another.
Except for scoring one run in the third, the Tribe was rendered helpless by Anibel Sanchez (7-5, 2.70 ERA), who did a five and fly.
The rally consisted of Chisenhall’s single off the pitcher that ended up in center field, a single by Drew Stubbs to move Chisenhall to third, and Michael Bourn’s infield hit to drive in the run.
The Tigers even stopped Kipnis’ 16-game hitting streak. Kipnis went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. It was the first time he had not reached base in 37 games.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.