Tigers try to spoil Tribe’s home opener

(Sports Network) – Less than 24 hours after nearly pulling off the
organization’s first no-hitter in 34 years, the Cleveland Indians return to
Progressive Field for their home opener Friday afternoon against the division-
rival Detroit Tigers.

Detroit is bidding for its fifth straight American League Central crown this
season. And the Tigers are off to a hot start after completing a three-game
sweep of the Minnesota Twins. They scored 22 runs for the series and yielded
only one.

On Thursday, Shane Greene twirled eight solid innings, allowing only four hits
to go with a walk and five strikeouts. A lone unearned run was all that kept
the Tigers from becoming only the second team of the modern era to open a
season with three consecutive shutouts. Still, Detroit did post an American
League record of 24 consecutive scoreless innings to start a season.

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer and added an RBI single to spark the

“I thought we swung the bats well,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “I don’t
know if we’re going to swing the bats this well all the time, but from Day 1
of Spring Training, I said I thought this lineup was better than what we had a
year ago, and I thought we had a very good lineup last year.”

The Indians are set for their home opener at newly renovated Progressive Field
after starters Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer combined for a
0.92 ERA in the team’s season-opening series in Houston.

In fact, four pitchers came two outs away from the Tribe’s first no-hitter
since 1981 in Thursday’s finale. But reliever Nick Hagadone coughed up a homer
to Houston’s Jed Lowrie with one out in the ninth. Bauer was solid in his
season debut, striking out a career-high 11 batters, although he did toss 111
pitches in six innings.

“Any time you have a no-hitter going, it’s fun,” Bauer said. “There’s a
special air in the building. Obviously, it’s unfortunate to see the home run,
but the team won, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters. We took two
out of three in the series and head home on a good note.”

Indians All-Star left fielder Michael Brantley sat out the last two games of
the series due to stiffness in his lower back, which he has been dealing with
since the start of spring training. He will undergo further evaluation on
Friday to try and uncover the root cause.

Offseason acquisition Alfredo Simon will start for the Tigers. He failed to
get through the fifth inning in the spring until tossing six-plus strong
frames in his second-to-last outing. Simon posted a strong first half of 2014
en route to an All-Star nod.

Right-hander Zach McAllister will take the hill in front of the sold-out home
crowd. He was impressive throughout the spring, showing strong command with
consistent velocity. McAllister has gone 19-25 with a 4.38 ERA in 72 games in
parts of four seasons with Cleveland.

Detroit had the upper hand in the head-to-head series last season, going 11-8
against the Tribe.