DETROIT -- If the Indians planned to make a statement on their six-game road trip, it's certainly not the one they intended. After being swept by the Braves, Cleveland dropped the series opener to the Tigers, 7-2, on Friday night at Comerica Park. The game was called after seven innings and an hour, nine-minute rain delay.
Whether it was Michael Bourn losing track of a fly ball in center field that allowed two runs to score or stranding five of their seven runners on base in the sixth and seventh innings alone, the Indians haven't followed the script in their push for the postseason.
The Indians have lost six straight games against Detroit and have a 1-9 mark in August against teams with a winning record. The Tribe are now 7 1/2 games back in the American League Central and 4 1/2 games back of the Rays for the second AL Wild Card spot, after Oakland's win against Tampa Bay.
"You have to beat good teams," Bourn said. "There's no way around it, you have to beat good teams. The Tigers are our nemesis right now. They might have handled us like we are their child, but we have to find a way to take their throne. At some point, you take the throne from them. We have to find a way to beat them. It's just as simple as that."
Zach McAllister (7-8) allowed five runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings, walking four and striking out three. Four of the six hits he gave up were off his fastball.
"I just wasn't aggressive in the strike zone," McAllister said. "I fell behind, and they were able to put balls in play when they knew fastballs were coming and they didn't miss them."
In the third inning, Detroit scored four runs. With one run already on the board and the bases loaded, Victor Martinez hit a fly ball into center field. Bourn couldn't find the ball in the air, and it dropped behind him to score two more runs. The Tigers added another run on a fielder's choice grounder, taking a 5-1 lead.
"Most of the time, I'm able to pick it back up, but tonight, I couldn't," Bourn said. "I take the blame for it. It was 2-1 at the time, and Mac was trying to get himself out of a jam. They might have scored one run, but they wouldn't have scored all those runs, I don't think. At least we'd have to make them earn them. I take blame for it, ain't no way around it."
McAllister had given up only four earned runs in his last three starts, spanning 19 2/3 innings. In two starts against the Tigers this month, McAllister allowed 10 earned runs in six innings with eight walks.
"They're a great team over there," McAllister said. "You have to give them respect, but at the same time, you have to know if you go out there and throw strikes and put the ball where you want to against any guy out there, more likely than not, they're going to get out. It's just the nature of the game. But again, if you fall behind, then they know what's coming and it's even more difficult to get them out."
The Indians' woes at the plate continued, going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and leaving seven runners on base. The Tribe are 1-for-25 with runners in scoring position on their road trip and have scored three runs or fewer in six of their last seven games.
In the second inning, the Indians singled and doubled twice against Tigers starter Rick Porcello, but it produced only one run. With runners on the corners and no outs, Asdrubal Cabrera drilled a ball into the hole at short, but Jose Iglesias made a diving stop and was able to turn a double play. Though a run scored, giving Cleveland a 1-0 lead, it stunted the chance for a bigger rally.
"That's probably going to be second and third again with nobody out, or first and third at worst," manager Terry Francona said. "That was just an unbelievable play. Good players sometimes make good plays. That hurt."
Said Tigers manager Jim Leyland: "To turn it into a double play, that's pretty impressive. That was just one great play. That turned the whole game around for me."
Nick Swisher hit a one-out double to right in the sixth inning before Jason Kipnis drew a walk. After a lineout, Michael Brantley walked to load the bases. Detroit reliever Al Alburquerque took over for Porcello and walked Cabrera, scoring Swisher. However, the Indians weren't able to add any other runs after a Yan Gomes groundout.
"We're not coming up with a big hit," Francona said. "We got some things going, we just couldn't finish it. We'll show up tomorrow against a real good pitcher and try to do better."
Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.