The Detroit Tigers get two more chances this weekend to break their longest losing streak to any team in franchise history.
The Tigers lost for the 18th consecutive time to the Cleveland Indians on Friday, getting thumped 10-5 at Detroit’s Comerica Park. They’ll play the second game of the series on Saturday, with another scheduled for Sunday afternoon.
Tigers right-hander Spencer Turnbull (2-0, 2.00 ERA) will start the second game of the series. Turnbull has been Detroit’s most effective starter, holding the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of his three outings.
In his last start, Turnbull held Pittsburgh to one run on five hits in seven innings while posting his second consecutive victory.
He was forced to improvise without his best stuff.
“When you can’t blow it by them or snap it off real nasty or make them swing and miss at it, you just try to keep them off balance,” he said to Mlive.com. “I think that’s what I did (Sunday).”
Turnbull has struggled against Cleveland. In seven career appearances, including six starts, he’s 0-5 with a 5.52 ERA.
He’s averaging a strikeout per inning while limiting batters to a .175 average.
Turnbull has been the only Tigers starter in recent games to eat innings. The starter on Friday, Ivan Nova, lasted just 3 1/3 innings while allowing eight runs.
Manager Ron Gardenhire is worried about overusing his bullpen.
“There’s a lot of concerns,” he said. “We’re trying to get through these things. You end up putting a lot of pressure on some kids to at least hold it there. It’s not easy when you go through these things. But hopefully, we’ll be better as we go along here. We have to get our starters into the second half of games again.”
The way that Shane Bieber is pitching this season, Turnbull needs to be sharp to keep his team in the game. Bieber will get the start for Cleveland.
Bieber (3-0, 1.63 ERA) has been lights-out in his four starts, giving up just five runs. He’s struck out 43 in 27 2/3 innings while walking just five.
He got a no-decision in his latest outing on Sunday, allowing three runs on four hits in six innings to the Chicago White Sox.
In four career starts against Detroit, he’s 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA.
He’s become a more complete pitcher, thanks to his command and a cut fastball that has made his other pitches more effective.
“We see Shane now being able to pitch to a scouting report and not worry about how many off-speed pitches he throws,” assistant pitching coach Ruben Niebla told Cleveland.com. “It also doesn’t hurt to be able to reach back and get 96 with his fastball when he needs it.”
Catcher Sandy Leon says it’s been a joy to work with Bieber during his swift development into a top-of-the-rotation hurler.
“Having that trust that he can throw every pitch in any count against any hitter makes it a lot easier,” Leon said to Cleveland.com. “When you have a guy like that, it’s a fun game.”
The Indians’ run total on Friday was their second highest of the season. They scored 13 runs against Cincinnati on Aug. 6.
–Field Level Media