Detroit — The crowd was modest, per usual these days.
But it also was quite into it, not per usual.
Miguel Cabrera had a two-out single in the fifth inning, drawing a roar much louder than you’d expect from a crowd of 17,829, and Kody Clemens later homered as the Tigers beat the Cleveland Guardians, 8-2, on Wednesday to complete a four-game sweep at Comerica Park.
BOX SCORE: Tigers 8, Guardians 2
The four-game winning streak matches the Tigers’ longest of the season. For the series, the Tigers, with the worst offense in baseball, scored 28 runs. That’s the most they’ve scored over a four-game stretch this year. For some perspective, from June 3 through June 17, they scored 23 runs in 13 games.
For four games in three days, including one doubleheader, the Tigers have been happy, in a season which “nobody’s happy” about, general manager Al Avila told the media before the game.
“It’s always fun when you win,” Robbie Grossman said. “It was only a matter of time.”
Said Michael Pineda: “We’re happy. We love to see it.”
Added Michael Fulmer: “We’re not out of it. We’re not out of anything yet.”
true. Of course, the Tigers still are just 34-47 as they hit the halfway point in the schedule. They now depart on a grueling 14-game road trip through Chicago, Kansas City, Cleveland and Oakland wrapped around the All-Star break. They’re 11-23 on the road this season. They don’t play again at Comerica Park until July 23, unless they join Chris Stapleton, Billy Joel or Elton John’s bands.
But they left the fans with quite the positive taste Wednesday.
Cabrera, batting .308 and riding a 13-game hitting streak, keyed the fifth-inning rally that broke the 2-2 tie; the rally also featured a Javier Báez RBI single in the inning.
Cabrera also had a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, giving him 1,835 career RBIs. That moved him into 17th place on the all-time list, past Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. The sacrifice fly reached scored Grossman, who on an RBI triple to the gap in right-center. For his efforts, Cabrera will get Thursday off.
“Us hitters are trying to produce for this city and these fans,” Clemens said. “It feels great.”
The Tigers started their scoring with two runs in the second inning to take a 2-1 lead, on RBI singles by Clemens (scoring Jonathan Schoop, with another hit) and Tucker Barnhart (who also walked twice).
Guardians starter Shane Bieber (3-5), who came into the game 7-3 with a 2.18 ERA in 10 career starts against Detroit, took the loss, allowing five runs in 5.2 innings. Bieber struck out six and walked two. Reliever James Karinchak was hit around in the seventh inning as the Guardians fell to 40-40, back to the .500 mark for the first time since June 7. They’ve lost 12 of 16.
Clemens hit his third major-league homer, in the eighth, a high, 377-foot shot to right field off Emmanuel Clase, who hadn’t allowed a home run in 11 previous appearances against the Tigers. He was firing 100-mph cut fastballs, but made a mistake with a slider on an 0-2 pitch to Clemens, and he didn’t miss it. Clemens was the only Tiger with multiple hits. Every Tiger but one (Willi Castro) had a hit.
“Good wins,” said manager AJ Hinch. “Obviously, we’ve been swinging the bats well, against a good team.”
Asked how he would assess the team at the half, he said: “I don’t. We just swept a series against a division opponent. I’d like to soak that up.”
Pineda (2-3) went five innings for Detroit for the win, allowing two runs on five hits, including a home run by Guardians cleanup man Franmil Reyes in the second inning.
Pineda walked two and struck out two. Pineda struck out six in earning his first win since April 21. Pineda battled, as he typically does, though he might’ve tired at the end, Hinch said.
No worries, given the Tigers’ bullpen.
“All the guys down there,” said Fulmer, “they’ve got great stuff.”
The Tigers’ bullpen finished the game with four scoreless innings — one each from Alex Lange (two strikeouts), Fulmer (one strikeout), Andrew Chafin and recently recalled Will Vest. Chafin worked around a two-base throwing error by Clemens in the eighth inning to post his sixth consecutive scoreless inning, his longest streak of the season.
“It’s definitely a positive step in the right direction,” Barnhart said. “It’s been a rough go.”
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