November 28, 2014

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Tigers complete sweep of sagging Indians

Detroit Tigers' Nick Castellanos, right, beats the tag by Cleveland Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, front left, to steal third on a wild pitch in the fourth inning of a baseball game on Sunday in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Detroit Tigers’ Nick Castellanos, right, beats the tag by Cleveland Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, front left, to steal third on a wild pitch in the fourth inning of a baseball game on Sunday in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

CLEVELAND — Call it the weekend of Wahoo woe.

With all the ingredients present for a raucous celebration at Progressive Field, the Indians went out and laid three eggs — none more rotten than the one they produced in the series finale Sunday.

Failing on pretty much every front, Cleveland limped to a 10-4 drubbing from Central Division leader Detroit, which completed a three-game sweep that left the third-place Indians five games behind in the standings.

The Indians showed some mettle in the first two games of the series, but put up little fight in the finale — especially after a brutal fifth inning in which Detroit scored seven times off starting pitcher Josh Tomlin.

Deplorable defense played a part in the decisive inning, with shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera dropping a throw on a double-play ball and Michael Bourn dropping a line drive right at him in center field. The Indians committed three errors on the day.

“Against that lineup, against any team, if you give them extra opportunities, there’s a decent chance you pay for it,” said manager Terry Francona, whose team has lost four of its last five games.

“And then we saw what happens when you come through the middle of that lineup and you give them extra chances, they put up a seven spot that basically took the game out of our hands.

“We were hanging in there at that point. If we could score a couple, we’re back in it, but they just blew it open, and we helped them. They didn’t need any help.”

Cleveland trailed 2-0 entering the fifth — Detroit’s first run scoring on a two-out solo home run from Miguel Cabrera in the opening inning.

Consecutive two-run doubles from J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos did the most damage in the fifth, with Tomlin leaving after Castellanos made it 7-0.

“I felt good going into that inning, but I didn’t do enough to limit the damage in that inning,” said Tomlin, who allowed eight runs (five earned) on eight hits over four innings. “That’s on me. I’d rather make better pitches in that situation to not give up seven runs.

“Those guys, they hit the ball. They do a great job in the middle of the order. You’ve got to keep the first two guys in the lineup off the bases and hope to face those guys with nobody on.”

Cabrera and Victor Martinez, Detroit’s third and fourth hitters, made the Indians pay often throughout the series. Cabrera hit .385 (5-for-13) with three extra-base hits and four RBIs, while the former Indian Martinez went 3-for-11 with two homers and four RBIs.

Cleveland’s fielding issues have been well-documented. The Indians were in the middle of the pack defensively last year, but they have been the big league’s worst this season, committing a major league-high 67 errors through 77 games.

“I mean, we’ve made errors,” Francona said when asked to explain the discrepancy between 2013 and ’14.

Cleveland’s offense wasn’t much to speak of, either.

Despite plenty of early opportunities against defending American League Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer, the Indians scored just once off the right-hander, who allowed a run on six hits, while striking out eight over six innings.

Cleveland had two on and one out in the first, but Scherzer struck out Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana to end the threat. The Indians put the first two aboard in the third, but Scherzer retired Cabrera, Michael Brantley and Kipnis to keep Cleveland scoreless.

“I thought early he was in a lot of deep counts,” Francona said. “If you’re going to get in those deep counts, you have to make a pitch, and he always seemed to do that.”

Cleveland, which entered the day ranked last in the majors in attendance (16,578 fans per home game), drew 100,280 fans to the weekend series, posting its second sellout of the season Saturday night.

It was the first time the Indians drew more than 100,000 fans to a weekend series since 2011.

The Indians begin a nine-day, eight-game road trip Tuesday, but an off-day today comes at a perfect time.

“After today, yeah, for sure,” Tomlin said.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.

NEXT UP
WHO: Cleveland vs. Arizona
WHEN: Tuesday, 9:40 p.m.
WHERE: Chase Field, Phoenix
PITCHERS: Masterson (4-5, 4.75 ERA) vs. Miley (3-6, 4.62)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM

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