CLEVELAND -- The Tigers are battling. They're certainly pitching. They are not yet slugging. They're not quitting, either."I like the way we're playing," manager Ron Gardenhire said after Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field. "We just need to figure out a way to get a couple of
CLEVELAND -- The Tigers are battling. They're certainly pitching. They are not yet slugging. They're not quitting, either.
"I like the way we're playing," manager Ron Gardenhire said after Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field. "We just need to figure out a way to get a couple of hits with those guys out there."
It's the opposite of what some expected of this team coming off its pitching struggles last year. It's arguably the logical extension of the cold weather they've been playing in since Spring Training ended, though some cold-weather teams have been hitting through similar conditions so far. It's no less frustrating for the Tigers through two closely contested ballgames against the two-time defending division champions, who have beaten the Tigers in nine consecutive matchups since last summer while holding Detroit to three or fewer runs in each.
The Tigers have yielded two runs on four hits in each of the past two nights. They've lost both games, mollifying the momentum they brought into town after sweeping the White Sox in Chicago last weekend. Monday's series opener was a credit to Corey Kluber, who claimed the outside corner as his territory and pounded it for strikeouts. Tuesday was a matter of Josh Tomlin and the defense behind him in a game in which the Tigers outhit the Tribe, 6-4.
"Their defense was the story, I thought," Gardenhire said. "Their starter was fantastic, but their defense made some kind of plays."
Detroit did what it could to pressure the defense when it put runners on. Niko Goodrum tagged up from first base on a flyout to medium-range center field in the second inning, challenging former Tiger Rajai Davis' arm. Victor Reyes followed his first Major League hit, a leadoff single in the seventh, by stealing second base and taking third when the throw went into center field.
Once Jeimer Candelario drove Reyes home with his third double of the night, the Tigers had their first run since the opening inning of Sunday's 1-0 win over the White Sox, ending a 23-inning scoreless streak. It was the Tigers' first run-scoring hit since Dixon Machado's two-run double in Saturday's win.
Candelario's RBI created a 1-1 game that lasted three pitches into the bottom of the inning. Once Roberto Perez's leadoff homer put the Tigers down again, Cody Allen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his third save for Cleveland.
Though Matthew Boyd continued his mastery of Cleveland's offense with seven innings of one-run ball, he picked up a no-decision, a slightly more merciful fate than the 1-0 loss he suffered against the Royals at Comerica Park last week in six innings of one-run ball.
Add Detroit's back-to-back losses to a pair of 1-0 defeats last homestand, and the Tigers are the first team since the 1933 Boston Braves to lose four times in their first 10 games while giving up two runs or fewer. Detroit also has a 1-0 win in that mix; Tigers pitching has given up more than two runs in just three games this season.
"You've got to stay positive all the time," Candelario said. "You always come to the ballpark expecting to win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
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 Candelario with a pitch, gave up a single to Jose Cabrera and later issued a two-out walk to Victor Martinez to load the bases. Tomlin then used a curve to induce a weak chopper back to the mound from Goodrum, leading to an inning-ending groundout.
Kipnis robs Cabrera: The Tigers had a chance to take the lead after Candelario's game-tying double, but Jason Kipnis ranged up the middle on Cabrera's ground ball. After a sliding stop, he bounced up and threw out Cabrera at first to end Detroit's threat. Kipnis had another standout play on Nicholas Castellanos to begin the eighth inning before Francisco Lindor made a highlight stop on Martinez's hard-hit grounder.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Candelario is the first Tiger to post three doubles in a game since J.D. Martinez did it on June 14, 2016, against the White Sox. Candelario is also the first Major Leaguer with a three-double game this season.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Tigers' newfound baserunning aggressiveness led Goodrum to test 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 two-minute, 46-second 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.
"I was just trying to be aggressive and trusting the scouting report we had on each outfielder's arm," Goodrum said. "I felt it was a good time to try to apply some pressure."
Jordan Zimmermann will try to change his recent history against the Indians when he takes the mound Wednesday in a 6:10 p.m. ET start at Progressive Field. Zimmermann lost all three of his starts against the Tribe last season, posting a 9.22 ERA.
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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.