09/19 00:57 CDT Puig's single in 10th lifts Indians over Tigers 2-1
Puig's single in 10th lifts Indians over Tigers 2-1
By BRIAN DULIK
CLEVELAND (AP) --- Yasiel Puig rounded first base, happily waiting for
Francisco Lindor to jump into his arms. It was a moment he had been waiting for
since joining the Indians on July 31.
Puig delivered a bases-loaded single off the top of the right field wall with
two outs in the 10th inning, and Cleveland kept up its playoff push by beating
Detroit 2-1 Wednesday night for its 16th straight victory over the Tigers.
The Indians are four games behind first-place Minnesota in the AL Central.
Cleveland is a half-game back of Tampa Bay for the second wild card and trails
Oakland by 2 for the top spot.
"I'm feeling good because this is my first walkoff with this team, finally,"
Puig said, exhaling. "The inning before, I told Lindor and a couple of players,
'Hey, I'm going to finish this one with a home run.' I didn't get that, but I
got the single to win the game.
"All I'm focused on is my team trying to win the most games we can and waiting
for Tampa to lose a couple."
The enigmatic slugger drove the first pitch he saw from Jos Cisnero (0-4) over
the head of Travis Demeritte. It was the fourth hit of the game and the fifth
career walkoff plate appearance by Puig, acquired from Cincinnati in a
Roberto Prez reached on an error by shortstop Willi Castro to open the 10th
and was replaced by Bradley Zimmer, who advanced on Ryan Flaherty's sacrifice
bunt. A fielder's choice by Oscar Mercado was bookended by intentional walks to
Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana, setting the stage for Puig.
"You have to take your choice because having to pitch to Puig is not your
greatest feeling in the world," said Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team
has the worst record in baseball at 45-106. "With Lindor and the whole package,
they have a great lineup and it's stacked at the top."
Puig said he was motivated by the strategy, explaining, "He walked Santana and
he's going to pitch to me like I can't finish this game. I got the pitch and
put the ball in play and we won."
Adam Cimber (6-3) earned the win with a perfect inning for Cleveland, which did
not allow a hit after the fourth.
The Indians' 16-game winning streak over the Tigers is one shy of the franchise
record set against Baltimore in 1954. Cleveland is 17-1 versus the Tigers this
year, outscoring them 109-38. Detroit matched its longest losing streak against
an opponent; first dropping 16 in a row to Minnesota from 2002-03.
"I love this time of year," Puig said. "I've been in the playoffs six times and
God gave me an opportunity to come over from Cincinnati to try and make it a
seventh time. Oakland is a little far ahead of us right now, but we're right
there with Tampa."
The biggest play prior to extra innings occurred in the fourth, when Cleveland
left fielder Greg Allen threw out Christin Stewart at the plate on a single by
Brandon Dixon. Allen's throw to Prez was clocked at 100.8 mph --- the fastest
outfield assist in the majors this season, according to the Indians.
"You know what? Sometimes you surprise yourself whether it's how hard you hit a
ball or make a throw like that," Allen said. "I just tried to get the ball out
as quickly as possible."
Indians right-hander Aaron Civale worked a season-high 7 2/3 innings, allowing
one run. The rookie is the fifth pitcher to begin his career with nine games of
five-plus innings and two or fewer earned runs --- the first since King Cole of
the Cubs from 1909-10.
Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull struck out eight over five innings, but
remained winless in 16 starts since beating Atlanta on May 31. The right-hander
leads the majors with 15 losses.
Indians LHP Brad Hand, who is sidelined with a tired arm, threw two dozen
pitches in a bullpen session. The All-Star closer last appeared in a game on
Sept. 8 at Minnesota. "It was just nice to see him look like himself," manager
Terry Francona said. . Cleveland DH Franmil Reyes rejoined the team after
spending one day away for personal reasons.
Tigers: 1B Jeimer Candelario (right triceps bruise) was not in the lineup for
the second straight day, but entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth
inning. He was hit on the arm by a pitch from Baltimore RHP Ryan Eades on
Indians: 3B Jos Ramrez (right hand surgery) is hitting in the batting cage
and fielding ground balls, but Francona is uncertain if he will return this
season. The two-time All-Star broke his hamate bone on Aug. 24 against Kansas
Tigers: LHP Daniel Norris (3-12, 4.62 ERA) will start the three-game series
finale before being relieved by RHP Drew VerHagen. They combined for seven
shutout innings, striking out five, in their most recent time-share outing on
Sept. 14 at Baltimore.
Indians: RHP Mike Clevinger (11-3, 2.68 ERA) had his 10-game winning streak
snapped on Sept. 14 against Minnesota, allowing two runs over a season-high
tying eight innings. He is 10-1 with a 2.02 ERA, 118 strikeouts and 23 walks
over his last 14 starts.
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