The Cleveland Indians can finish off their latest series sweep against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
They extended their winning streak against the Tigers to 19 games on Saturday with a 3-1 victory at Detroit’s Comerica Park. It’s the longest winning streak against any opponent in Indians franchise history. It’s also the longest losing streak in Tigers’ history to a single opponent.
“I had no idea it was like that,” said Cleveland right-hander Shane Bieber, who struck out 11 batters in seven innings on Saturday. “I was just trying to keep things rolling. I feel like we’re confident as a squad right now, and we’re going to go out there and finish the job tomorrow.”
The last time the Tigers defeated the Indians was April 10 of last season. Cleveland won the next day and has dominated its American League Central Division rival from that point.
The teams are scheduled to meet seven more times this season, including a three-game series next weekend in Cleveland.
Adam Plutko (1-1, 2.45 ERA) will start for the Indians. The 28-year-old right-hander is filling in for Mike Clevinger, who is away from the team after violating league protocols.
Plutko started against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday and allowed one run in four innings. He started regularly last season after Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco were sidelined.
In eight career appearances against Detroit, including five starts, Plutko is 4-0 with a 4.09 ERA.
Clevinger and Zach Plesac, who also violated COVID-19 protocols, are currently at the team’s alternate training site in Lake County (Ohio).
Plutko criticized both players after his last outing.
“They hurt us bad,” Plutko told Cleveland.com. “They lied to us. They sat here in front of you guys and publicly said things that they didn’t follow through on.”
Right-hander Michael Fulmer (0-0, 6.35 ERA) will make his third start this season for Detroit. Fulmer is on an innings limit after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
He held the Chicago White Sox scoreless in a three-inning stint on Monday. His fastball topped out at 96 mph, an encouraging sign.
“This day was going to eventually come. I’m glad it came now,” Fulmer said to MLB.com. “(Pitching coach) Rick (Anderson) and I have been working quite a bit these last two weeks, and I give him credit for helping me with some things that hopefully will continue forward.”
Fulmer is 2-4 with a 6.62 ERA in eight career starts against the Indians.
Left-hander Tyler Alexander will likely follow Fulmer. The Tigers would prefer to use Daniel Norris in that role but they needed Norris to come in relief on Friday when Ivan Nova was ineffective.
“Danny threw (almost) two innings, so we’ll probably use Alexander now,” Gardenhire said to the Detroit News. “We really need length.”
Detroit has dropped its last four games and learned earlier on Saturday that first baseman C.J. Cron would miss the remainder of the season. Cron injured his left knee fielding a grounder on Monday and opted for season-ending surgery. Jeimer Candelario has moved from third to first and Gardenhire will likely use a platoon at third.
–Field Level Media