Indians fans who have been praying for rain early in most of the second half Indians games had the rain gods come back and bite them tonight. Due to a rainout last night in Chicago, Justin Verlander's start was pushed back a day and he effortlessly shut the Indians out for seven innings, scattering just six hits, and leading the Tigers to a 4-0 series opening victory over the Indians.
Corey Kluber, whose Achilles' heel this season has been the first inning, put the Indians in an early hole. In the first, four straight Tigers singled with two outs to open up a 2-0 lead. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder set up the inning, while Brennan Boesch and Delmon Young both drove in runs. Kluber escaped the inning without further damage by retiring Jhonny Peralta, but the Tigers weren't done scoring off of Kluber.
In the second inning, the Tigers added a couple more. As is usually the case, a leadoff walk came back to hurt Kluber. He walked Alex Avila to start the inning and Avila went to second on a ground out. Austin Jackson followed with a RBI double and Miguel Cabrera singled him home later in the inning. With a 4-0 lead and Verlander on the mound, the Tigers just put it in cruise control for the remainder of the evening.
It wasn't until the fifth inning that the Indians got a runner to third. In fact, they only had one hit in the first four innings, a Lonnie Chisenhall flare single to right center. Casey Kotchman singled to start the fifth and went to third on Chisenhall's double. With runners on second and third and nobody out, the Tribe blew a golden opportunity to get back in the game. Matt LaPorta grounded out to the pitcher, Ezequiel Carrera struck out, and Jason Donald grounded out. When an opportunity presents itself against Verlander, it must be taken advantage of.
To Kluber's credit, after a rocky start, he settled down nicely. He navigated through five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, with five strikeouts and a couple of walks. He gave the Indians offense a chance to get back in the game, but it never came to fruition. Despite squandering a great chance in the fifth, the Indians got another in the sixth. Shin-Soo Choo led off the inning with a single and scampered to third on a Carlos Santana double with one out. Russ Canzler and Kotchman both failed to drive Choo in from third and Verlander escaped yet again.
Chris Seddon and Frank Herrmann combined to throw four scoreless innings in relief, with no hits allowed and five strikeouts. Joaquin Benoit threw a scoreless eighth for the Tigers. Jose Valverde came in and finished off the shutout for the Tigers.
With the loss, the Indians fell to 60-85. The Tigers improved to 76-67. Corey Kluber was the loser, dropping to 1-4. Justin Verlander picked up his 14th victory of the season.
Stat of the Night: The Indians were shut out for the for the 10th time this season. They were shut out 13 times last season and 15 times in 2010. Progress!
Player of the Game: Lonnie Chisenhall picked up a couple of hits off of Verlander and drew a walk off Valverde.
Tomorrow's Game: The Indians and Tigers play a 4:05 nationally-televised game. The Indians will send Justin Masterson to the mound while the Tigers counter with Anibal Sanchez.