Lately, it seems every time the Cleveland Indians hold a lead late in a game, they can’t protect it.
The Indians will try to overcome their bullpen woes and avoid a sweep when they conclude their three-game series with the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on Sunday.
For the second straight night and fourth time in their last six games, the Indians bullpen failed to protect a lead when Detroit’s Ivan Rodriguez hit a walkoff, two-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning to lift the Tigers to a 4-3 victory on Saturday.
For embattled Cleveland closer Fausto Carmona, it was one more rough outing.
Since taking the closer’s job after Bob Wickman was dealt to Atlanta on July 20, Carmona has blown all three of his save opportunities and has allowed 11 runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings over his last four appearances.
He blew two saves against the Red Sox earlier in the week before surrendering the homer to Rodriguez on Saturday.
“We’re just going to have to take a look at everything and see what the best way to go is,” said Indians manager Eric Wedge about Carmona’s immediate future.
It was the second straight win for the Tigers (74-36) in their last at-bat. Craig Monroe’s two-run homer in the eighth inning on Friday night off Indians reliever Fernando Cabrera helped Detroit to a 7-6 victory.
The Indians (47-62) have a major league-low 16 saves and their bullpen has blown 18 save opportunities, the third-highest total in the American League and a big reason why Cleveland has lost 19 of its past 27 games.
The Indians turn to C.C. Sabathia (8-7, 3.64 ERA) to try and stop their slide. The left-hander ended a three-game losing streak with a victory over the Red Sox on Tuesday, allowing 10 hits but only one run in eight innings.
“He threw the ball as well as we’ve seen him throw,” Wedge said. “He had a great fastball from the first inning on, and he used it all the way through the eighth.”
He’s lost both of his starts against the Tigers this season despite a 3.60 ERA. Cleveland was shutout in his first start against Detroit on May 13 and managed one run on July 26.
Sabathia is 10-6 with a 4.28 ERA in 19 career starts against Detroit and is 6-0 at Comerica Park.
Detroit’s victory was its fourth in the last five games and helped it maintain an eight-game lead over the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.
Rodriguez’s homer was his first since July 13 and gave him three multihit games in his last four contests.
“I wasn’t trying to hit a home run, I just wanted to make good contact,” said Rodriguez. “He threw me a fastball down the middle and I got all of it.”
Wilfredo Ledezma (1-1, 4.11) will take the mound for the Tigers as they go for the sweep. It will be the left-hander’s first start since June 4, 2005.
He’s made 11 relief appearances out of the bullpen since being recalled from the minors in mid-June. He went 2-4 with a 7.07 ERA in 10 major league starts last season.
Ledezma pitched one scoreless inning against the Indians on July 25 and is 1-1 with a 5.74 ERA in eight career appearances against Cleveland.
This is the final meeting between the division rivals in Detroit this season.