CLEVELAND — As a manager, you can push the right buttons and the pull the right strings and still get punched in the mouth.
It happened to the Tigers and AJ Hinch as the Guardians broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning to take Game 1 of the doubleheader 4-1 at Progressive Field Monday.
Hinch had left-hander Andrew Chafin warm and ready for the pocket of hitters he'd planned to use him against. Namely switch-hitter Jose Ramirez, less dangerous hitting right-handed, and left-handed hitting Andres Gimenez.
With runners at first and third and one out, Chafin struck out Ramirez. But he hung a first-pitch slider to Gimenez, who hit it into the seats in right field — three-run home run.
Incredible. Chafin allowed just one home run in his first 42 appearances this season, covering 154 batters. But he allowed a home run Saturday night to AJ Pollock of the White Sox (four-seam fastball) and this one to Gimenez.
Before that swing by Gimenez, hitters were 3 for 53 against Chafin's slider.
It was the Tigers' eighth straight loss.
They were in a position to win largely because of Drew Hutchison's fighting spirit.
He doesn’t have one pitch that would be considered elite at the big-league level. Every start, it seems, is a test of his survival skills. And he just keeps surviving.
Changing speeds, nibbling on the edges of all four quadrants of the plate, in turns floating pitches away from hitters and then busting them in, he ends up making it as much a grind for the hitters as it may seem to be for him.