Detroit Tigers’ offense dormant, drop Game 1 of DH at Cleveland, 4-1

CLEVELAND — Andres Gimenez took a fearless swing at Andrew Chafin’s first-pitch slider with two outs in the seventh inning.

The ball sailed over the right field wall.

A go-ahead, three-run home run.

“He didn’t miss a mistake,” manager AJ Hinch said.

The Detroit Tigers lost, 4-1, to the Cleveland Guardians in Game 1 of Monday’s doubleheader and the first of four games in the series. The offense, worst in MLB, finished with three hits, two walks and 13 strikeouts. The Tigers (43-74) have dropped eight games in a row and carry a 7-27 record since July 9.

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Detroit has struck out 91 times over the past seven games.

“I felt good today and made some big pitches,” right-handed starter Drew Hutchison said. “Maybe I could’ve made one more big pitch. But it’s a loss. Losing sucks, so there’s really not much to say other than that.”

Tigers second baseman Jonathan Schoop tries to control the ball as Guardians' Myles Straw steals second base during the fifth inning in the first game of a doubleheader Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Cleveland.

The lack of offense continues to create problems, but the Tigers were in a position to win until a messy seventh inning. The Guardians put the first two runners on base with right-handed reliever Will Vest on the mound.

Hinch sent Chafin, a left-hander, into the game to face Jose Ramirez with one out and runners on the corners. Chafin struck out Ramirez on four pitches, finishing the four-time All-Star with a nasty swing-and-miss slider.

“The inning starts with the walk to (Myles) Straw,” Hinch said. “When (Vest) walks him, it changes that entire inning. … I wanted to turn around Jose Ramirez, which feels like, going into that at-bat, that’s the toughest assignment for Chafin with runners on first and third. But Andres Gimenez is a pretty good player.”

Gimenez stepped to the plate, and on the first pitch, the Guardians took a 4-1 advantage.

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“Everybody is battling, everybody is going up there and doing everything they can do,” Hutchison said. “We have another game right now, and everybody is going to do the same. Hopefully, we can just continue to battle and win some games.”

The Tigers’ offense remained lifeless in the eighth and ninth innings, as Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase — an All-Star who entered Monday with a 1.29 ERA and an American League-leading 26 saves — retired three straight to end the game.

Drew Hutchison vs Aaron Civale

Hutchison completed 5⅓ innings.

He allowed one run on seven hits and one walk with four strikeouts. Opposing Hutchison, Guardians right-hander Aaron Civale tossed six innings of one-run ball, allowing three hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts.

Hutchison threw 67 of 101 pitches for strikes.

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“You know, you go until they take you out,” Hutchison said. “AJ does a great job managing our bullpen, with the way he makes the right moves, so none of that. It was just compete until they take you out.”

Tigers starting pitcher Drew Hutchison delivers against the Guardians during the first inning in the first game of a doubleheader, Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Cleveland.

The Guardians didn’t score until the fifth inning, when Straw opened the frame with a single and stole second base with one out. A fourth-pitch slider to Ramirez hung over the heart of the plate, and with two outs, the slugger singled to right field.

It was enough to score Straw and tie the game, 1-1.

Hutchison allowed a leadoff double to Oscar Gonzalez in the sixth inning but struck out Owen Miller before righty reliever Will Vest replaced him. Vest retired the next two batters to keep the game tied entering the seventh.

For his 101 pitches, Hutchison used 37 four-seam fastballs, 32 sliders, 16 changeups and 16 sinkers. He produced eight swings and misses: three four-seamers, three sliders and two changeups.

“My slider was good today and my fastball command was better today,” Hutchison said. “I gave up some hits, but that’s what this team does. It was just the one walk. When you sprinkle those in with a team like this, that’s usually when you get in trouble, so I did a good job in that sense. “

Tigers' Harold Castro grounds out against the Guardians, driving in a run during the first inning in the first game of a doubleheader Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, in Cleveland.

The Tigers scored their lone run against Civale in the first inning, as Riley Greene drilled a leadoff single to center field on the first pitch of the game. Javier Báez put two runners in scoring position with a one-out double — his 24th double this season — on a first-pitch slider.

Harold Castro, the next batter, grounded out, scoring Greene for a 1-0 lead. Miguel Cabrera, with Báez standing on third base, struck out swinging on three pitches to squander a chance at more runs.

For Civale’s 82 pitches (56 strikes), he threw 36 curveballs, 24 cutters, 15 sinkers, four four-seam fastballs and three sliders. He got 18 swings and misses: 11 curveballs, three cutters, three sinkers and one slider.

Contact Evan Petzold at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

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