Cleveland, which isn’t pitching or hitting, is losing plenty. The latest evidence is its 4-1 setback Sunday at Comerica Park that completed a three-game sweep for Central Division-leading Detroit.
The Indians have lost a season-high seven straight games and 11 straight on the road. Since posting an 18-4 stretch and taking over the top spot in the Central Division, Cleveland has dropped 15 of its last 19 to fall 5½ games off the Tigers’ pace.
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If Nick Swisher was describing his team right now, it would be amazing awfulness — not amazing awesomeness.
“Just as much as we’ve had a negative streak, we can just as easily have a positive one, starting (tonight),” said starter Justin Masterson, who wasn’t able to stop the bleeding in the finale, allowing four runs on three hits, while striking out seven over seven innings. “We’re not catching a whole lot of breaks.”
Case in point: Detroit broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning on a three-run home run from light-hitting Don Kelly, who won the game for the Tigers despite entering the day batting just .188.
The pitch that Kelly hit off Masterson was at his shins, yet he somehow golfed it into the right-field seats to extend Cleveland’s misery.
“It was a ball,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of the 1-2 pitch. “It got into his swing path and it got out of the ballpark. That ended up being the difference.”
Kelly entered the game with good numbers against Masterson, batting .353 (6-for-17), but without a homer against the right-hander.
“Usually, he drops it in somewhere,” Masterson said of Kelly. “This one, he dropped over the fence. He put a good swing on it. It was down in there, but it was able to get out of the park at an inopportune time for us.
“That’s what’s disappointing. It came down to one pitch that wasn’t even a bad one.”
Despite making his major league debut on a big stage and in front of a sellout crowd, Tigers starter Jose Alvarez didn’t have the same issues. Called up to replace Anibal Sanchez for one start, the left-hander allowed just a run on three hits and struck out seven over six innings.
Alvarez, who was sent back down after the game, didn’t allow a hit and had just one baserunner over the first four innings before Ryan Raburn ended the no-hit bid with a two-out solo homer in the fifth.
“He had good velocity and had a breaking ball that he threw in any count,” Francona said. “We probably tried to do too much.”
“It’s always tough because you don’t know how he’s going to approach you,” Raburn said of facing Alvarez for the first time. “He threw the ball well. We just couldn’t get anything going.”
The Indians matched Detroit’s hit count of six, but the big blast went to Kelly and the Tigers.
About the only silver lining for Cleveland was that Swisher was able to snap out of an 0-for-26 skid with a base hit in the sixth.
The Indians are frantically bailing water, but their boat is still submerged.
“We’re playing our butts off,” Raburn said. “We’re just coming up a little short. We’re not too far away from winning some of these games.
“This club’s too good. Sooner or later, it’s going to turn around.”
If it’s not sooner, it could be see you later for the Indians.