As we noted yesterday, games against the division rival Detroit Tigers have huge implications for the Cleveland Indians. The Indians performed poorly against the team last year, to the tune of a 4 – 15 record. The Tribe lost the division by 1 game to the Tigers leading to playing in the 1 game Wild Card game. We all know how that ended. Much like the Indiana Pacers put emphasis on getting the #1 seed over the Miami Heat, the Tribe need that singular focus about the division.
Last night was the first chance at it, and the Indians indeed struck first. Zach McAllister pitched a strong 6 innings only giving up 1 run and the bullpen was able to keep the lead, giving up another run in the final 3. The Indians got out of jams a few times, including a runner on third in the ninth with only 1 out. Closer John Axford, who blew his last save attempt, got a a strikeout and a groundout to end the game.
The offense was limited by 2013 ERA king Anibal Sanchez. Sanchez only gave up 2 hits but was done in by clutch hitting, his 4 walks and an error. Yan Gomes ripped a triple in the 2nd to plate Asdrubal Cabrera who reached on an error and David Murhpy who had walked. That put the Tribe up 3 to 1 in the second, a lead they would never relinquish. After that the Indians only mustered 3 hits and 1 walk against Sanchez and 3 Tiger relievers.
This was a game that seemed like the Indians would give away, like they did many last year against the Tigers. Miguel Cabrera drove in 1 in the 8th before Cody Allen was able to finally end the inning with the Indians up 1. Then Axford gave up a double to Alex Avila, who advanced to 3rd on Michael Bourn‘s error. Yet Axford, unlike Chris Perez last year, was able to close it out and give the Indians the big opening salvo they needed in this War for the Division. #WarForTheDivision
What was your experience like watching the game last night? How important do you think the #WarForTheDivision is?