CLEVELAND (AP)Miguel Cabrera remained two home runs shy of 500, but Tyler Alexander tossed a season-high 5 1/3 scoreless innings as the Detroit Tigers edged the Cleveland Indians 2-1 on Saturday night.
Cabrera went 0 for 3 with a walk, keeping his career total at 498 homers. The veteran Detroit slugger is trying to become the 28th player in major league history with 500. He also has 2,946 hits during his 19 seasons.
Alexander (2-1) allowed four hits without issuing a walk, striking out four in his seventh appearance since moving into the rotation. The left-hander had not gone longer than four innings in 30 previous outings this year.
”I moved my cutter well, in and out, and that helped my fastball,” Alexander said. ”There have been some adjustments I’ve made since the start of the season that have really paid off in the last few starts.”
Former Tigers catcher Wilson Ramos spoiled the shutout with a leadoff homer in the ninth against Gregory Soto, who picked up his 13th save in 14 opportunities.
”Tyler earned it and he had plenty left in his gas tank, but I had a fully rested ‘pen to go with,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. ”We escaped a lot of traffic tonight. All of our guys had to pitch their way and win some big at-bats.”
The Tigers opened the scoring in the second when Jeimer Candelario led off with a double and came home on a sacrifice fly by Zack Short. Detroit made it 2-0 in the fifth on an RBI single by Akil Baddoo, plating Victor Reyes.
Indians rookie Eli Morgan (1-4) gave up two runs over seven innings, his longest start in the majors. The right-hander struck out three, retiring the final nine batters he faced and getting 15 of his 21 outs in the air.
”My confidence is growing, and it’s mainly growing from the work I’m putting in,” Morgan said. ”This team does a great job preparing pitchers and I know that they’re dumping everything at me. I should be in a good spot come my next start.”
Cleveland loaded the bases in the sixth and seventh, but Michael Fulmer and Jose Cisnero entered to quell the threats.
Fulmer retired Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes in order to end the sixth, then Cisnero coaxed Myles Straw into a weak grounder to wrap up the seventh.
The Indians put two on to begin the eighth, only to have Cisnero get three straight outs. Cleveland had 10 hits but finished 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10.
”There were some opportunities there, but we didn’t cash in and they made some good pitches to get out of it,” Indians acting manager DeMarlo Hale said. ”You look at a 2-1 game, and it’s really one swing of the bat that changes everything.”
Jonathan Schoop and Eric Haase each went 2 for 4 for the Tigers. Before the game, Schoop agreed to a $15 million, two-year contract covering 2022 and 2023.
The first pitch was delayed by 66 minutes because of rain.
Ramos, released by Detroit on June 20, went 3 for 4 in his Indians debut. The 33-year-old Venezuelan batted .200 in 35 games with the Tigers, sandwiched around two trips to the injured list.
”Baseball has a funny way of paying you back,” Hinch said. ”Wilson is a tremendous person and I wish him the best with Cleveland. Things just don’t work out sometimes.”
Tigers: C Jake Rogers (right arm soreness), on the 10-day IL since July 19, will not be activated before Sept. 1. Hinch said Rogers has not been cleared to resume throwing, but should begin working with medicine balls soon.
Indians: 1B Bobby Bradley (left knee bruise) was not in the lineup, one day after exiting the series opener in the fifth inning. Hale said the team will monitor Bradley’s status before deciding if he will be placed on the IL.
Tigers: RHP Wily Peralta (3-2, 3.47 ERA) faces Cleveland for the second time this season. He earned his first MLB victory in two years on June 30 at Progressive Field, working five innings without allowing an earned run.
Indians: RHP Zach Plesac (6-4, 4.64) takes the hill in the three-game series finale. Plesac has a 6.03 ERA in his last seven starts with just 19 strikeouts over 37 1/3 innings, but is 3-1 during the same stretch.
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