The Indians dropped their record to 2-9 to the Tigers last night, after a 8-5 loss. It’s just another chapter in the Tribe’s poor season against their rival to the North. In fact, it’s gotten so bad, that the Indians are the answer to a trivia question. That would be: What is the most one-sided rivalry in baseball since 2009? ( The Indians are 41-72 (.363) against the Tigers)
But the Indians shouldn’t be struggling against Detroit. The Tigers only sit two games above .500, at 36-34, and are third in the AL Central. They have many flaws that can be easily exposed. So, here are a few ways the Indians can shut down the Tigers, and take two or three games this week at Progressive Field.
1. Stop Pitching to Miguel Cabrera
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out, so why hasn’t Tito done it? Cabrera has been the definition of Indian killer, having a .649 average, with five home runs and 16 RBI. But, Francona has done it once this year, and it was relatively effective. Referring back to April 25th’s game at Comerica Park, Miggy only saw pitches in one at bat for the day. Unfortunately, it was the guy right behind him, Victor Martinez, who drove in three runs and powered Detroit by the Tribe.
So how is that same strategy going to work this time? Because the Tigers have had awful struggles to find a clean-up man since then. Victor Martinez went into a slump and got hurt, J.D. Martinez has been hot and cold, and seems to only hit home runs, or fly out. Even though Yoenis Cespedes is having statistically his best year at the plate, I’d rather have to face him with Cabrera on first, than pitch to arguably the best hitter of this decade.
2. Score Multiple Runs off of Detroit’s starting pitching
It’s no secret that Detroit has a terrible bullpen, so the Indians need to hit their starters hard, early and often. Because, if the Tigers get behind two or three runs early, it’s going to be tough to get back in a game for them. While a few guys, such as Chamberlin, Hardy, Wilson, and Soria, are having nice years, it’s easy to look down the stat sheet and see some guys really struggling. Even with all the hype about the Tigers rotation, it’s not as good as it seems.
Alfredo Simon, while he’s had a bunch of good starts this year, has really been struggling as of late. Justin Verlander hasn’t had a good season with the Tigers since he signed his extension in 2013, Anibal Sanchez loves to give up a bunch of home runs in his starts, and Detroit is still struggling to solidify a 5th starter. Get four runs in these guys in the first few innings, and they’re down and out.
3. Better Starting Pitching
The pitching staff that was third-best in baseball after the All-Star break last season hasn’t shown up. And the Tigers have ripped that apart. They’ve hit the best off of the Tribe, hitting .325 off of them. No other team they’ve played so far has hit over .300.
Yes, the Tigers have a potent offense, but a lot of their hitters like to get really hot and really cold. Shutting down their offense early and not giving up five runs to the Tigers means they will have a better chance. As said before, I will take Cleveland in a pitchers duel any day, due to the Indians’ better bullpen. Unfortunately, the Tribe has failed to do so, hence the 2-9 record.
So there you have it. Three fool-proof ways to beat the Tigers, not just for one game, but to start having better results against Detroit for the rest of the season. That way the Indians’ record against Detroit will be 9-9 like in 2010, instead of 4-15 like in 2013.