Tigers Fans Rejoice: The Streak Finally Ends
Jason Ross Jr.
Resiliency, home runs, shutdown innings from the bullpen, and plenty of smiles in the dugout. A Friday night in Cleveland that was reminiscent of the Tigers' surprising 9-5 start to the 2020 season.
Detroit's players insisted on backing the notion that their twenty-game losing streak to Cleveland wasn't something they thought about unless the media brought it up. On Friday night at Progressive Field, the Tigers (10-14) looked like a team that wasn't bogged down with any distractions.
The handprints of youth and veteran leadership were splattered all over Friday's 10-5 victory, snapping a nine-game skid on the season, and discovering their first win over the Indians in 499 days.
When Cleveland jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third inning, and Michael Fulmer was dealing with command issues, thoughts of "oh no, not again," must have been creeping into the households of Tigers fans everywhere.
21-year-old Isaac Paredes has only been on the big-league roster for five days, so this was his first experience against the Indians. He certainly wasn't thinking about a losing streak when he climbed into the right-handed batter's box for his second at-bat of the night with the bases loaded in the fourth inning of a 3-3 ballgame.
Paredes, who possesses poise beyond his years, vaulted a 1-2 fastball from Adam Plutko 389 feet into the left-field seats to give the Tigers a four-run lead that they wouldn't surrender. Paredes' grand slam made him the first Tiger since Brennan Boesch in 2010 to hit a grand slam for his first career big-league home run.
"This guy can hit; we said that from the get-go," said manager Ron Gardenhire. "He plays a lot of baseball down in [Mexico] and plays with a lot of fellas that have some pretty good experience. So he doesn't have any fear here. We knew that in Spring Training. We knew that in Spring training even last year. He comes and he gets after it pretty good."
Veteran Jonathan Schoop provided the other home run in Detroit's seven-run fourth inning rally. His 139th career homer was a part of a four-hit, masterpiece of a night that gave Schoop his seventh multi-hit game of the season.
Victor Reyes, who has shown increased power this season, homered off a first-pitch from Indians reliever Dominic Leone in the seventh inning to give the Tigers an 8-5 lead. A two-run single from Jeimer Candelario would follow in the subsequent moments to make it ten unanswered runs after the inauspicious 5-0 deficit.
Buck Farmer hadn't played since August 9th in Pittsburg due to a left groin strain. He took the responsibility of closing out the ballgame in the ninth inning, and did so in 24 pitches, releasing the Tigers from the spell that Cleveland had cast on them for the past twenty meetings.
"A lot of these guys haven't been around for those other 19 or however many losses," said Ron Gardenhire as he chuckled after the game. "So they've only had to live with a few of them, so they don't understand it, but we've been there and we know what's happened, and you're talking about a good baseball team, where we had a lot of good ball games with them, we just never could get over the hump, and you know finally, hopefully that things off our back now."
The Tigers managed to find a way over the hump that Gardenhire mentioned, which felt imperative on a night that followed a 9-0 loss to the White Sox on Thursday. Detroit's players won't have to answer questions about whether they are thinking about a losing streak when they face the Indians tomorrow.