DETROIT (AP) – John Hicks expected to be challenged by shutdown reliever Andrew Miller in a tight spot Tuesday night.
Instead, he got an easy bases-loaded walk to cap an unexpected comeback.
JaCoby Jones homered and doubled, and the Detroit Tigers rallied against Miller during a five-run seventh inning to beat the Cleveland Indians 9-8.
The Indians led 4-0 and 8-4 before Detroit’s breakthrough seventh for its third straight win. Miller (1-2) allowed two inherited runners to score, then allowed two runs of his own. He faced six batters, giving up two doubles and three walks while getting one out.
Louis Coleman (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh inning, and Shane Greene, pitching for the fourth straight day, worked the ninth for his ninth save. Nicholas Castellanos also homered for Detroit.
After Dan Otero gave up a run and left two on for Miller in the seventh, Jones and Pete Kozma hit back-to-back RBI doubles before walks by Victor Martinez and Niko Goodrum loaded the bases with two outs. Miller then walked John Hicks to force in the go-ahead run.
“I was looking for a good pitch to hit, but he wasn’t even coming close,” Hicks said. “He threw a strike on 3-0, when I was taking all the way, but nothing else was near the strike zone.”
Miller wasn’t sure what went wrong.
“I wasn’t going to let Victor hurt me, and I had to tip my cap to Goodrum for a great at-bat,” Miller said. “Hicks, though, was just horrible. There is no excuse for that.”
The Indians loaded the bases with no one out in the eighth against Daniel Stumpf, but Brandon Guyer struck out and Jason Kipnis hit into an inning-ending double play.
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire planned to stick with Stumpf regardless – he didn’t have a choice, since he was out of usable relief pitchers. He did try to bluff Indians manager Terry Francona, though.
“We told Buck (Farmer) to stand there but not throw a pitch,” Gardenhire said. “But Stumpf was a live arm and we needed him to get himself out of the mess he had created.”
Gardenhire ended up using Greene in the ninth despite wanting to rest him.
Guyer hit a first-pitch fastball into the Tigers bullpen for his first career grand slam in the first inning off starter Francisco Liriano.
Jones led off the bottom of the inning with his third homer, the 14th hit off Josh Tomlin this season, but Erik Gonzalez made it 5-1 with a home run in the second.
Liriano left with runners on the corners and one out in the fifth, and Zac Reininger got Guyer to hit into a double play.
Hicks pulled the Tigers within 5-2 with an RBI single in the fifth, and Jose Iglesias’ run-scoring groundout made it a two-run game.
Davis, though, hit a two-run double off Reininger in the sixth to give Cleveland a 7-3 lead, and he scored on Ramirez’s double off Hicks’ glove at first.
Castellanos homered in the sixth to make it 8-4 and end Tomlin’s night.
Indians: Cleveland placed CF Bradley Zimmer (rib) on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to May 12, and selected the contract of RHP Neil Ramirez from Triple-A Columbus. To make room for Ramirez on the 40-man roster, LHP Ryan Merritt (knee) was moved to the 60-day disabled list.
Tigers: 1B Miguel Cabrera (hamstring) is expected to miss at least another week, due to stiffness in his back and hip during rehab… LHP Chad Bell was claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Braves.
UP NEXT: The teams finish a three-game series Wednesday afternoon with Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer (2-3, 3.00) facing a Tigers pitcher to be named. Detroit will need to use a spot starter because of Saturday’s doubleheader and Jordan Zimmermann’s shoulder injury.
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