Heading into the ninth inning, things didn’t look too promising for the Detroit Tigers. They were losing 2-0, and the Cleveland Indians brought in closer Chris Perez to shut the door. Well, he didn’t get the job done, as a three-run home run from Alex Avila was the dagger that led the Tigers’ miraculous comeback. The Indians were three outs away from cutting their division deficit to two games, but that was not meant to be; it is now four games, and it might be getting worse with the Tigers sending ace Justin Verlander to the mound tomorrow. The Indians blew a golden opportunity on Monday, as they choked away the game to the Tigers. After getting a dominant start from starter Corey Kluber, they couldn’t cash in on it.
The Tigers are one of the best teams in all of baseball, and the Indians surely can’t afford to lose two in a row to them, so the game Tuesday is an absolute must-win. As mentioned before, an Indians’ win will not come easy, as Verlander will be getting the start, but Cleveland has ace Justin Masterson taking the mound. In fact, Masterson has had a better season stats-wise than Verlander. This year, Masterson has a 13-7 record with a 3.33 ERA. Compared to a 11-8 record with a 3.88 ERA for Verlander, his numbers are slightly better than Verlander’s.
Indians manager Terry Francona can only hope that Masterson will pitch as good as Kluber did on Monday, but I personally don’t think he will. It is hard enough to keep the Tigers’ bats silent for one game, but to do it on back-to-back nights will not be an easy feat. I say the Tigers win 6-2 and get a complete game from Verlander. Padding the division lead over the Indians is an obvious goal for the Tigers for the remainder of the season, but they need to look long term and try to have the best record in the American League, which is currently owned by the Boston Red Sox.
You can follow Reece Helms on Twitter at: @Reece_Helms.