CLEVELAND -- The Indians launched a pair of home runs on Tuesday and nothing else. It was another cold game for the offense on another bitter night in Cleveland, but this Tribe roster is proving resilient in light of its overpowering pitching.The players inside Cleveland's clubhouse know they would likely
CLEVELAND -- The Indians launched a pair of home runs on Tuesday and nothing else. It was another cold game for the offense on another bitter night in Cleveland, but this Tribe roster is proving resilient in light of its overpowering pitching.
The players inside Cleveland's clubhouse know they would likely be dealing with a much deeper slump if it were not for the arms that make up the pitching staff. Instead, the Indians continued to hold the top spot -- along with the Twins -- in the American League Central after eking out a 2-1 victory over the Tigers at Progressive Field.
"Tip the cap to the pitchers. They're the ones who are doing great," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said. "We've got five starters who can go out every night and feel like they give you a chance to win. Right now, especially when the bats are cold, they're the ones pulling the most on the rope."
Over the past five games at home, where the temperature climbed to a balmy 40 degrees by the first pitch on Tuesday, Tribe pitchers have held the opposition to five total runs. Starter Josh Tomlin did his part against Detroit with five scoreless innings, lowering the rotation's collective ERA to 1.05 in the five-game stretch.
Tomlin, who allowed eight earned runs in three innings while battling a back issue in his season debut in Anaheim last week, finished with three strikeouts and two walks in a no-decision. Cody Allen took care of the ninth for the save.
The message that manager Terry Francona has hammered home in his time in Cleveland is to win the game at hand. The only thing that matters is doing everything possible to finish one run better than the other team when the day is done. Lately, though, the Indians have been putting that into practice in extreme fashion.
The one-run victory this time around -- powered by a solo shot from Jose Ramirez in the first and another via Roberto Perez in the eighth -- was the seventh one-run affair for the Indians through 11 games on the young season. During the five-game homestand, the Tribe has scored 10 runs and produced a .153/.238/.264 slash line as a team, but it has still notched four wins.
To put things into perspective, this marks the first time in 111 recorded seasons that the Indians have won three consecutive games with no more than four hits by the offense in each victory.
"Our pitching staff has kind of saved the day," Francona said. "And, it's not just pitching good, but every game has been one run, so there's not a lot of margin for error. That's probably the understatement of the year. They've done a really good job."
The defense played a big role on Tuesday night, too.
Shortstop Francisco Lindor made a pair of impressive plays in the hole -- first to rob Jose Cabrera of a hit in the first and then doing the same against Victor Martinez in the eighth. Kipnis came through in the seventh with two outs and a runner on second. Cabrera sent a pitch from Dan Otero up the middle, where Kipnis made a backhanded grab and throw to first to preserve a 1-1 tie.
"Their defense was the story, I thought," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Their starter was fantastic, but their defense made some kind of plays."
On another cold night for the lineup, that is precisely the recipe the Tribe required.
"We all take a little bit of pride in doing whatever we can to win that day," Tomlin said. "Offensively, defensively, pitching, whatever the case may be, as long as we're one run better at the end of the game, that's all we really care about."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
It took two: Lefty Matthew Boyd stymied the Indians over seven innings with the exception of one flinch in the first. Ramirez, who reached base three times on Monday, sent a 1-1 pitch out to left with a 107-mph exit velocity. In the eighth, it was Perez's turn. The catcher came into the night 0-for-9 on the season, but he capped off a two-hit day with his opposite-field, go-ahead blast against Alex Wilson.
"It feels good," Perez said. "I mean, I know it's early in the season, but we're capable of scoring more runs than one or two runs a game. It's nice to see the pitching staff carry us throughout a slump."
Tomlin's escape: The Tigers managed seven baserunners in Tomlin's five innings, but the right-hander wiggled free of every jam he encountered. His biggest escape act arrived in the third, when Tomlin hit Jeimer Candelario with a pitch, gave up a single to Cabrera and later issued a two-out walk to Martinez to load the bases. Tomlin then used a curve to induce a weak chopper back to the mound from Niko Goodrum, leading to an inning-ending groundout.
"I was just trying to execute a pitch down, trying to get a ground ball," Tomlin said. "We've got a really good defense. For me, it's just trying to get someone to put the ball in play as much as possible and as quick as possible. In that situation, the plan of attack was to throw a curveball and just trying to execute the curveball down."
"The guy has proven to be a Major League pitcher. I don't think anybody in here wanted to count him out after one bad start, and he got right back on there and shut these guys down and gave us a chance to win. He's one of those guys that goes out and competes each time." -- Kipnis, on Tomlin
"It was kind of a tough go offensively, but after [Perez] hit that home run, in the dugout, everyone was jumping on him. They're trying to weather this. They're playing good defense, and they're staying after it." -- Francona
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The run scored by the Tigers in the seventh snapped a 19-inning scoreless streak turned in by Cleveland's pitching staff. That marked the longest such run since the Tribe's 30-inning scoreless run on the mound from Aug. 24-28 last season.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Tigers' newfound baserunning aggressiveness led Goodrum to test Rajai Davis' arm in center field, tagging up from first base on a flyout to medium-depth left-center. Goodrum was originally ruled out, but a replay review showed him sliding around the tag attempt at second base. Once Goodrum was ruled safe, it marked the fifth overturn in as many challenges for Gardenhire in his brief Tigers tenure.
Indians righty Carlos Carrasco is slated to take the mound on Wednesday against the Tigers in a 6:10 p.m. ET clash at Progressive Field. Last year, Carrasco went 4-1 with a 1.82 ERA in six starts vs. Detroit with 45 strikeouts and nine walks in 39 2/3 innings..
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Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.