CLEVELAND (AP) — Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus refuses to make excuses for his team’s woeful record against the Indians.
The misery continued Monday as reliever Bruce Rondon gave up a two-run homer to Mike Napoli in the seventh inning, leading Cleveland to a 5-3 victory over Detroit.
The Tigers have lost all 10 of their games against the Indians — being outscored by a 65-23 margin — and had their season-long winning streak snapped at six.
“The prevailing theme is they’ve hit better, they’ve pitched better, and they’ve played better than we have,” Ausmus said. “Tonight was much more even than a lot of the games have been because we had clutch hitting to tie the game. But in the end, they still beat us.”
Nick Castellanos hit a two-run homer in the sixth to erase Detroit’s 3-1 deficit, only to have Rondon (2-1) allow Napoli’s 422-foot shot in the next inning. Steven Moya also homered off Indians right-hander Danny Salazar, who leads the American League with a 2.36 ERA.
The Tigers sent the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the eighth, but Castellanos hit into a double play against Bryan Shaw.
Detroit then put one on with one out in the ninth against Cleveland closer Cody Allen. James McCann was forced out on a ball hit by Jose Iglesias, who was initially called safe to extend the inning.
Indians manager Terry Francona challenged the call, which was reversed after a video review, to end the game at 12:51 a.m. The first pitch was delayed by 2 hours, 21 minutes due to rain.
“I still am unsure that Napoli had the ball at first before Iglesias was on the bag,” Ausmus said. “Maybe they saw something I didn’t or have better eyes than I do.”
Left-hander Daniel Norris started for the Tigers, but exited with a right oblique strain after facing one batter in the third. He will undergo an MRI on Tuesday morning.
Prior to the game, Detroit placed right-hander Jordan Zimmermann on the DL with a right neck strain. Ausmus said the injury has been bothering him for two weeks and flared up during an afternoon throwing session.
“It just won’t go away, so we’re going to give it some time to get Jordan right,” he said.
Right-hander Dustin Molleken was recalled from Triple-A Toledo to replace Zimmerman, and made his major league debut by following Norris with two scoreless innings.
The 31-year-old Canadian amassed 349 appearances in the minors while playing for 11 teams since 2003.
“Dustin seemed very composed, and I was happy for him,” Ausmus said. “He did an excellent job filling in when we needed him tonight.”
The All-Star Game rosters will be announced Tuesday. No Tigers were atop their position in the penultimate fan balloting, but Ausmus sees no reason to tinker with the system. “Fans have always voted, so I wouldn’t change the process,” he said. “Is it always fair? No, but the players have an opportunity pick for the reserves, so it tends to work out.”
Tigers: RHP Zimmermann (right neck strain) was scheduled to start Tuesday, but will miss his next two turns.
Indians: 3B Juan Uribe (right hand bruise) returned to the lineup after being hit by a pitch Saturday at Toronto.
Tigers: RHP Anibal Sanchez, who lost his starting spot on May 31, fills in for Zimmermann. He is 3-7 with a 6.71 ERA in 12 starts.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco struck out a season-high 14 over 7 1-3 innings in his last outing, a 4-1 win at Toronto on June 30.