CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Indians used a late offensive rally and strong bullpen performance to oust the Tigers, 8-6. The Indians never seemed comfortable Monday night, as Detroit put pressure on early on, and made the 15,000 plus fans in attendance sweat this one out.
The Tigers threatened immediately and needed a great play at the plate to avoid falling behind in the first.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 15, 2019
Cleveland was able to score first thanks to a Mike Freeman two run home-run in the second inning. Freeman is someone Cleveland could use to become a reliable bench bat, his two hits Monday night should help him earn more at-bats. The lefty is hitting .000 this season with three home-runs and 11 RBIs.
Detroit cut the Indians lead in half in the third courtesy of Harold Castro’s sac fly, scoring Jordy Mercer. The Tigers took the lead in the next inning as Christin Stewart hit a two run home- run to give Detroit a 3-2 lead. Jordy Mercer continued his strong evening in the fifth when he hit his second home-run this season to give the Tigers a 4-2 lead.
Indians rookie Oscar Mercado hit his fifth career home-run in the fifth inning trimming the Detroit lead down to one. Unfortunately for Tribe fans the Tigers Nicholas Castellanos hit his 10th home-run in the top of the sixth to give the Detroit a 5-3 lead.
Tyler Naquin was able to deliver a game changing hit with two outs to give Cleveland a lead they would never surrender. It was his third consective game with two or more hits, extending his average to .423 (11-26) with five doubles during July.
Once Terry Francona decided to take out starter Adam Plutko the Indians bullpen was able to come in and take back the momentum from Detroit. Plutko finished the giving allowing five runs over 5.1 innings, striking out one Tigers hitter. Cleveland is fortunate enough to have a lot of depth in their pen, and Monday night was a perfect example of how it’s a great asset.
It was a group effort as no guy pitched more than four outs, as the combination of Tyler Olson, Aj Cole, Nick Goody, Nick Wittgren, and Brad Hand stalled out the Tigers offense. The Cleveland bullpen pitched 4.2 innings allowing just two hits, striking out three Tigers.
With one out and two on for the Tigers in the top of the seventh, the game went a 54 minute rain delay. Those who stuck the delay out were rewarded by a rejuvenated effort from the Tribe. Starting with Nick Wittgren, who came on to earn the win after tossing 1.1 scoreless innings. Just as Wittgren took advantage in the top of the inning, the Indians offense followed suit.
Oscar Mercado hit his second home-run of the game to give the Indians the 6-5 lead. Monday was the first time that Mercado has homered twice in the big-leagues. On the season the rookie has six home-runs and is hitting .284 with 19 RBIs.
The next two Cleveland hitters after Mercado took the lead, set up Jose Ramirez for a two run double. It was Ramirez’s double that gave the Indians breathing room before Brad Hand came on to close things out for his league leading 25th save. It wasn’t a perfect outing for Hand, as he did surrender a home-run to Jordy Mercer in the ninth. Mercer was the Tigers biggest threat all night, hitting two home-runs and scoring three runs.
The Indians and Tigers get back to it Tuesday night when Zach Pleasac faces off against Ryan Carpenter. The Indians have now gone 23-10 since June, 4th which the best record in the American League during that stretch. Cleveland also improved to 9-1 against Detroit this season, including winning eight straight.
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