By: Will Burchfield
It wasn’t much — hardly anything, really — but it was just enough to jolt the Indians to life.
After Jordan Zimmermann threw behind Carlos Santana in the top of the fifth, seeming response for Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco drilling Jose Iglesias an inning prior, the Indians rallied for four runs in the sixth and turned a 1-0 deficit into a 4-1 win in the second game of a day-night doubleheader on Saturday at Comerica Park.
“It might have been the best thing that happened to us because it woke us up. Our guys really got after it from there,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona.
Zimmermann’s stray pitch to Santana grazed the hitter in the back and prompted players to trickle out of each dugout and bullpen. Santana voiced his displeasure to Zimmermann on his way to first, but there was no further confrontation.
The umpires issued a warning to both teams.
The next inning, the Indians scratched four runs off Zimmermann, who up to that point had been brilliant. Jose Ramirez delivered the big blow, a two-run homer that pushed Cleveland’s lead to 4-1.
Carrasco, meanwhile, retired 10 straight batters after plunking Iglesias. The right-hander had struggled early on, but found his groove midway through the game and never looked back.
“He sure did, and we played with a lot more energy. That’s a long day and we really picked it up,” said Francona. “We talk so often about not backing down from a challenge, it’s easier to say it than to do it. I was really proud of our guys.”
Zimmermann, who gave up 4 runs over 5 2/3 innings despite having some of his best stuff of the season, clarified he was not throwing at Santana.
“I was trying to go up and in, I got him out the first time up and in. I was having a tough time all night going into lefties, everything kept running back, running back. So I told myself drive it in there, and I drove it in there and I threw behind him,” Zimmermann said.
Brad Ausmus agreed.
“No hitter, obviously, wants a ball coming near him. But as far as the pitch, it was just a fastball going in,” he said.
Santana took exception to it nevertheless, and had some words for Zimmermann as he walked down the line toward first.
“Yeah, he was saying something. I don’t what he was saying, I couldn’t understand, but obviously he was upset,” said Zimmermann. “Probably thought it was intentional, but it wasn’t.”
Zimmermann said he wasn’t fazed by the incident. He induced an inning-ending double play from the next batter.
Iglesias wasn’t the only Tigers hitter to be plunked on Saturday. In the first game, James McCann was hit twice.
Said Francona, “A couple of their guys got hit, I understand that. I just don’t think you ever throw behind somebody.”
Carrasco explained he had no intention of hitting Iglesias.
“To be clear, I don’t want to hit anyone. I just want to get a ground ball to get an out,” he said. “The game’s 1-0, man on (second), I don’t want to hit anyone. I just tried to throw it inside to get a ground ball and it hit him.
“But you know what, it’s part of the game. And after that I just started pitching a little more aggressive, too, and getting some people out.”
Carrasco held the Tigers to one run on four hits over seven innings for his ninth win of the season.
It’s common when the Tigers and Indians play for some kind of argument or incident to occur.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that we see ‘em 19 times a year,” said Ausmus. “So that stuff can happen.”