Desperate for offense, Tigers take on Indians again

MLB

Just seven games into the season, the Detroit Tigers have some concerns about their offense.

The Tigers have scored a total of three runs while dropping their last two games. Overall, they have generated 24 runs but even that is a little deceptive. A handful of those runs came in the ninth inning on Monday when they trailed Minnesota 15-1.

Detroit was held to one run — Wilson Ramos’ solo blast — and four hits in a 4-1 loss at Cleveland on Friday. The American League Central Division teams will play the second game of the three-game series on Saturday.

Indians starter Zach Plesac blanked them through the first seven innings in the series opener.

“We faced a tough pitcher tonight and he held us in check,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “We didn’t put a lot of pressure on the opponent. Ramos’ home run and then a few hits here and there was all our offense to speak of tonight. That’s going to happen on occasion, so another opportunity tomorrow against a different pitcher.”

Hinch was forced to improvise on Friday when scheduled starter Julio Teheran experienced triceps tightness while warming up. Derek Holland was the emergency starter, and Buck Farmer followed him. Michael Fulmer tossed the last four innings, holding Cleveland to one run and preserving the rest of the bullpen.

Fulmer could take Teheran’s spot in the rotation if the veteran right-hander needs to go on the injured list. Fulmer was limited to three-inning stints last season after coming off Tommy John surgery.

“That’s why I did it, just in case (Fulmer needs to start),” Hinch said. “We needed to cover the game, we were still in the game. And ultimately, if something does push us to a decision in the rotation, obviously I wanted him to go 50-60 pitches.”

The pitching matchup on Saturday will feature a rematch of last Sunday’s game in Detroit, which the Indians won 9-3. Cleveland starter Aaron Civale (1-0, 3.86 ERA) pitched seven innings and recorded the victory, giving up three runs on two hits. Tigers starter Tarik Skubal (0-0, 3.38) limited the Indians to two runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings and wound up with a no-decision.

Civale is 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA in five career starts against Detroit. Skubal is 0-0 with a 3.52 ERA in two career starts against the Indians.

Skubal has retired Cleveland designated hitter Franmil Reyes the three times the lefty has faced him. It’s going to be difficult to keep that going the way Reyes is swinging the bat.

Reyes accounted for three of the Indians’ four runs on Friday with a pair of homers. He drilled the first one to left off Holland.

“I saw the way they pitched me in Detroit,” Reyes said in a postgame TV interview. “My approach the whole time was I was looking for that pitch (inside). Holland was just pounding me with a lot of fastballs in, five in a row, and I got one to hit. … I was able to recognize right away what they were doing to me.”

Reyes’ second homer of the night came off Fulmer and traveled an estimated 446 feet to center field.

“I hit it right on the barrel,” Reyes said. “I got a fastball right in the middle and I had to crush it.”

The season series is tied at two games apiece.

–Field Level Media

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