Apr 16, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians second basemanJason Kipnis
(22) and Detroit Tigers catcherAlex Avila
(13) look toward first base to see that Detroit short stopAlex Gonzalez
(not pictured) is out, completing a double play in the seventh inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
You can’t ever know how a game is going to go after just three batters, but if that’s all you saw today then you ended up getting the gist: Anibal Sanchez walked the bases loaded.
It actually didn’t end up quite as dire as it seemed for him — he got out of that jam while only allowing a single run and got through five innings eight strikeouts, four walks, and three runs allowed two earned — but the whole game ended up being that sort of pull-your-hair-out drive-you-crazy game. The pitching did enough to keep the team in the game, the offense put some runners aboard and even into scoring position, but none of it ever really came together.
They had chances starting right away in the bottom of the first inning. Ian Kinsler led off the game with a double and came around to score, advancing both on groundouts by Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera, but that would be all the bats could muster until the eighth inning when they mustered their only real threat of the night.
The Tigers entered the bottom of the eighth trailing 3-1 (and scuffling offensively) when the Cleveland defense allowed them a breath of life. A Rajai Davis popup was dropped by Jason Kipnis on the outfield grass and Kinsler was able to beat out a bunt single (upheld by review) to put two aboard. Unfortunately, Hunter would attempt to sacrifice bunt the runners over (and fail to get it down) before ultimately grounding into a double play. Miguel Cabrera was able to drive Davis home with a base hit to left, and Victor Martinez singled through the shift, but an Austin Jackson strikeout ended the threat.
Down just a run in the ninth the Tigers had a chance to make something happen — and nearly did after Alex Avila reached third base on a one-out double and subsequent fielding error by Michael Bourn — but Cleveland closer John Axford was able to strike out pinch-hitter Don Kelly and induce a Rajai Davis groundout to end the game.
It was one of those games. A game they really had no business winning because of how poorly they played, and yet the tying run was right there on third base with only one out. Tantalizingly close, but it wasn’t to be.