CLEVELAND -- The Rally Goose had no place on the shores of Lake Erie on Friday night. For that matter, the Tigers have struggled to put a rally together at Progressive Field for a while.
As competitive as the Tigers have proven to be this season, including against the Indians at Comerica Park two weeks ago, Cleveland remains a house oft horrors for them. As Indians rookie Shane Bieber shut down Detroit's lineup for seven innings in his third Major League start, sending the Tigers to a 10-0 loss, the gap was evident.
"He got us today," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said of Bieber.
The Tigers' third straight loss was their fifth in as many games in Cleveland this season and eighth in a row since Michael Fulmer won here just before last year's All-Star break. Add the two losses in Cincinnati this week, and Michigan's Major League team is 0-7 in the state of Ohio while three games over .500 everywhere else.
Detroit, which crept within 2 1/2 games of Cleveland in the American League Central standings heading into the week, has fallen six games behind, a reminder that the Tigers remain a rebuilding team even as they exceed expectations. While they've racked up wins against the rest of the division, their head-to-head struggles with the Tribe remain, with a meeting against Trevor Bauer looming Saturday.
"They have a tough lineup over there, a bunch of veteran hitters with some very, very good young hitters," Gardenhire said. "We've known this for a long time. They got on a roll tonight, and they jumped us pretty good. But we've got two more games here. We can even the series tomorrow, and we can win the series after that. But now, we go against the guy that we've had a lot of trouble with, and we have to figure out a way to hit him, too.
"We knew coming in that this was going to be a tough series, and we have to get tough ourselves."
Mike Fiers has been Detroit's most competitive pitcher against Cleveland, entering the evening with a 3-1 record and 2.04 ERA in six career starts against the Indians. He had never allowed more than two runs in a game to the Tribe and maneuvered through their imposing lineup the first time through with a chance to continue that.
A 3-1 fastball over the plate began the damage in Fiers' second go-around through the lineup, with Francisco Lindor sending a 396-foot drive into the right-field seats for a third-inning solo shot. A leadoff walk in the fourth, one of four passes to Jose Ramirez on the night, set up Edwin Encarnacion's two-run homer, a drive onto the left-field plaza, for a 3-0 lead.
"They make you pay for your mistakes," Fiers said.
Fiers (5-4), who had allowed eight earned runs to the Indians for his career, yielded half that total Friday, giving up four runs on as many hits in five innings. Yonder Alonso's seventh-inning grand slam off Johnny Barbato put the game away.
That support was more than enough for Bieber (2-0), who struck out five of Detroit's first six batters and nine on the night. He allowed just four singles and a walk, inducing a pair of ground-ball double plays from Victor Martinez to escape damage.
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Gardenhire had a talk with right fielder Nicholas Castellanos Friday afternoon about playing balls off the fence when a catch is unlikely, but Castellanos came up with a leaping catch at the right-field wall to deny extra bases from Lonnie Chisenhall leading off the sixth inning.
"He just wants to catch everything for the pitcher," Gardenhire said.
Francisco Liriano returns from the DL for his first start in 3 1/2 weeks as the series in Cleveland continues with a 6:10 p.m. ET start at Progressive Field on Saturday. Liriano (3-2, 3.90 ERA) hasn't pitched since May 26 due to a right hamstring strain. Bauer (6-5, 2.50) will start for Cleveland.