By Jeff O'Brien

On the same day the Tigers’ general manager criticized his team’s defense, Detroit made enough plays in the field to win a game in which it had just three hits and scored once.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – APRIL 26: Niko Goodrum #28 of the Detroit Tigers at bat against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park on April 26, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Niko Goodrum doubled, advanced on Jake Rogers’ bunt and scored on Robbie Grossman’s sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, and the Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 1-0 on Wednesday night.

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Detroit did solid work early when Cleveland was batting to keep the game scoreless.

Maybe the Tigers heard about what general manager Al Avila said.

Avila addressed the team’s shortcomings and didn’t hold back, speaking virtually to the Detroit Economic Club before the game.

LAKELAND, FL – FEBRUARY 14: Detroit Tigers Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Al Avila looks on during Spring Training workouts at the TigerTown Complex on February 14, 2019 in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

“Our defense has let us down,” Avila said.

That was not the case Wednesday night.

The Tigers turned a double play in the second inning and ended it at home with Rogers tagging out Josh Naylor, who tried to score from first on Owen Miller’s double, after center fielder Akil Baddoo connected with shortstop Niko Goodrum for a relay throw.

“Two perfect throws from Akill and Niko,” Rogers said. “That’s what you dream about as a catcher.”

DETROIT, MI – MAY 15: Jose Urena #62 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the second inning at Comerica Park on May 15, 2021, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Detroit’s Jose Urena gave up three hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings before exiting with a forearm injury in the middle of an at-bat after a trainer made a brief visit to the mound.

Jose Cisnero, Michael Fulmer (4-3) and Gregory Soto completed the four-hitter, with Soto earning his fifth save.

“There’s nights we’re a little challenged (offensively) and thankfully we’ve pitched well enough,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Cal Quantrill (0-1) allowed two over three innings, along with the game’s only run, and moved toward the team’s goal of having him work longer stints.

CLEVELAND, OH – MAY 12, 2021: Manager Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians walks off the field after a pitching change in the sixth inning of a game against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on May 12, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by: 2021 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

“We got Quantrill more stretched out,” Francona said.

Cleveland’s Triston McKenzie gave up one single and three walks while striking out five in five innings.

The Tigers ended a four-game losing streak overall and a six-game skid against the Indians.

“We’re knocking on the door,” Detroit left-hander Derek Holland said. “Soon we’re gonna kick that thing down.”

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CAUGHT A BREAK

Indians right-hander Zach Plesac will not need surgery after breaking the thumb on his pitching hand while yanking off his undershirt following a rough outing.

“Other than it being broken, it was a pretty upbeat visit to the doctor,” Francona said Wednesday.

Francona said Plesac, who is on the 10-day injured list, will be reassessed every seven to 10 days and is expected to begin a throwing regimen in three weeks.

INJURY REPORT

Urena said he has had a similar forearm ailment in the past, when throwing a lot of curveballs, but didn’t sound worried about the latest flare-up.

Cleveland infielder Amed Rosario was only available to pinch run after getting hit in the hand in Tuesday’s game.

BOUNCING BACK

McKenzie made the most of his opportunity just days after being sent to Triple-A Columbus with an AL-high 30 walks in 31 1/3 innings.

Francona said before the game that the the 23-year-old McKenzie, one of the club’s top prospects, would be sent back to the minors regardless of how he pitched in Detroit.

McKenzie, though, was told immediately after the game that he would be called up to start one of the team’s games on Monday against the Chicago White Sox.

“I think it’s a part of the game,” he said. “I think that’s what makes baseball so beautiful.”

UP NEXT

The teams wrap up the four-game series Thursday with Cleveland right-hander Shane Bieber (4-3, 3.32) and Detroit lefty Matthew Boyd (2-5, 3.08) scheduled to start.

 

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