DETROIT -- Jose Ramirez has been solving a lot of pitchers lately. On Monday night, the problem for the Indians was that their hot-hitting third baseman was the only batter to break through against Tigers starter Mike Fiers.In a 6-3 loss to Detroit, which capitalized late on the Tribe's struggling
DETROIT -- Jose Ramirez has been solving a lot of pitchers lately. On Monday night, the problem for the Indians was that their hot-hitting third baseman was the only batter to break through against Tigers starter Mike Fiers.
In a 6-3 loss to Detroit, which capitalized late on the Tribe's struggling bullpen, Ramirez sent a fastball from Fiers towering over right field, where it sailed into the front row of the Comerica Park stands. The blast was the 13th of the season for Ramirez, moving him into a tie with four others for the Major League lead.
"Jose is going to hit anybody," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
The home run was also the only answer Cleveland had for Fiers in the defeat, which included two homers from Tigers outfielder Niko Goodrum. The second blast was a three-run shot in the eighth off reliever Zach McAllister, who took over after righty Evan Marshall walked a pair of batters to open the frame.
That increased the Indians' bullpen ERA this season to 5.45, which ranks 28th in the Majors.
"We've got to figure it out," Francona said. "There's no getting around it, we've got to figure it out. And we will. I always believe that. It hasn't been the prettiest at times, but we'll figure it out."
Against an Indians lineup that headed into the game with an MLB-leading 60 homers on the year, Fiers logged six strong innings with only three hits scattered. The Tribe's only other opportunistic chance against the righty arrived in the third, when Ramirez flied out to strand runners on the corners.
That low offensive output magnified the mistakes of Tribe starter Carlos Carrasco, who turned in 6 2/3 innings and allowed three runs in a 112-pitch effort. Carrasco allowed one run to score via a groundout in the third and then surrendered a two-run homer to Goodrum to put the Indians behind for good in the fourth.
"It was a bad pitch right there -- the homer," Carrasco said. "I tried to throw inside, and it just kind of came back to the middle. First-pitch fastball. And actually those guys were aggressive on the first pitch. Whenever I threw a fastball, slider, changeup, whatever, they'd swing. And he got it. He hit it pretty good."
That steered the spotlight away from Ramirez, who is tied with Mookie Betts, Manny Machado, Bryce Harper and Ozzie Albies for the MLB lead in homers.
While Ramirez's teammate, shortstop Francisco Lindor, has won the last two American League Player of the Week Awards, the powerful third baseman has been right behind him in terms of production. Over the same two-week span in which Lindor excelled, Ramirez posted a .370/.452/.815 slash line with 14 extra-base hits in 13 games.
Since his average dropped to .061 on April 8, Ramirez has hit at a .350 clip with a 1.173 OPS in 30 games, including Monday's showing. Ramirez's blast on an elevated, 2-1 four-seamer from Fiers also represented the third baseman's second homer in as many days and his sixth in the past 10 contests.
Against the rest of Cleveland's lineup, Fiers' high fastballs gave the hitters fits.
"He had a fastball up, borderline out of the zone," Francona said. "We had a heck of time either getting to it or laying off of it. And then off of that, he'd spin a little breaking ball, but it was the fastball up that just kind of got under our bats."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Lindor extends streak: With two outs in the ninth inning, Greg Allen came through with a triple to the right-center gap and Brandon Guyer followed with a walk against Tigers closer Shane Greene. After going hitless in his first four plate appearances, Lindor then roped a pitch into center for an RBI single, extending his career-best hitting streak to 15 games. During the streak, Lindor has hit .456 (31-for-68) with eight homers and 16 RBIs.
Comeback stalls in eighth: The Tigers gifted the Tribe with a scoring chance in the eighth inning, when second baseman Dixon Machado's fielding error allowed Ramirez to reach with two outs. That set the table for slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who drilled a pitch from reliever Joe Jimenez to deep right-center field for an RBI double, cutting Detroit's lead to 3-2. The Tigers then handed the ball to lefty Daniel Stumpf, who escaped further harm by inducing a first-pitch popout off the bat of Yonder Alonso.
Lindor's streak is the 10th consisting of at least 15 games over the past 10 seasons (2009-18) by an Indians batter. Michael Brantley's 22-game run from May 20-June 15, 2012, is the longest streak in that time period. Lindor's 16 extra-base hits in the current streak are the most within a run of at least 15 games by a Tribe batter since Jim Thome also had 16 in a 16-game streak from May 25-June 10, 1998.
Right-hander Josh Tomlin (0-4, 8.06 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Indians on Tuesday, when the Tribe takes on the Tigers at 7:10 p.m. ET at Comerica Park. Tomlin is 7-6 with a 4.87 ERA in 17 career games (13 starts) against the Tigers and 4-3 with a 3.88 ERA in 10 career games (eight starts) in Detroit. The Tigers will counter with lefty Francisco Liriano (3-1, 3.35).
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.