Tigers’ Early Lead Too Much for Tribe; Tigers 10, Indians 4
Bob Toth | On 10, May 2013
A battle between two of the top offenses in the American League was won by the Detroit Tigers Friday night, as they defeated the Cleveland Indians in the first of 19 meetings between the two clubs on the season, 10-4.
Detroit erupted for 15 hits and plated ten runs on the night, due in part to a shaky start by Cleveland starting pitcher Corey Kluber. The Tigers entered the game leading all of baseball in batting average and on-base percentage and had two of the top six hitters in the AL.
The Indians jumped out early in the first inning off of Detroit’s starter, Max Scherzer, giving Kluber a lead to work with. Jason Kipnis doubled to straightaway center field and scored with two outs on a double to right center by Nick Swisher that went all the way to the wall.
After a good first inning, Kluber gave the lead up for good to start the bottom half of the second. He walked leadoff batter Victor Martinez on four straight pitches. After a line out to Lonnie Chisenhall at third, Jhonny Peralta doubled down the line in left to move Martinez to third. After getting ahead in the count 3-0, Alex Avila delivered with a two-run double down the right field line to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. A double and lineout followed before Torii Hunter singled to right.
In what has become the theme of the week, a bad baserunning blunder by Hunter was compounded by a missed call at first base by the umpiring crew. On Hunter’s single, right fielder Drew Stubbs came up throwing. First baseman Mark Reynolds cut the throw off and alertly tagged out Hunter, who had rounded first base too far. Avila scored easily from third, but a second runner was unable to score before Hunter was tagged out. Video evidence, however, showed that Hunter never touched first base, which should have eliminated the other run from scoring. Mistake aside, the Tigers led 3-1 after two.
Prince Fielder pushed the lead to 4-1 in the bottom of the third with a first pitch blast to right center field. The 460-foot shot was his ninth home run of the season.
The Indians cut the deficit in half in the fourth inning. Swisher parked a pitch to the right field corner and advanced all the way to third with a triple. Carlos Santana pushed the run across the plate on a groundout to second.
Detroit ripped the game open for good in the bottom of the fourth. Avila struck out against Kluber to lead off the frame. Omar Infante struck his second double in as many at bats and moved to third on an infield single by Austin Jackson, who reached as Reynolds appeared confused as to where the ball went with Jackson’s exploded bat flying towards third base. Hunter struck out for the second out of the inning, but Miguel Cabrera followed with his seventh home run of the season, a three-run shot deep to left to give the Tigers a 7-2 lead.
Kluber was finally chased from the game in the bottom of the fifth. After getting two quick outs, he gave up a ground rule double to Peralta and an RBI-single to center by Avila. Bryan Shaw relieved him and after Infante’s third hit of the game, struck out Jackson to end the inning.
Kluber (2-2) struggled with his command throughout the game. He threw 91 pitches, 55 of which were strikes, and struck out four on the game. He walked a pair of batters and gave up eleven hits in four and two-thirds innings. He gave up a career-high and Indians season-high eight earned runs, jumping his ERA 2.58 points from 3.06 to 5.64.
“I thought his stuff was identical [to his last outing]. He came out of the bullpen and he was crisp,” said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. “And as we got into the game, he made some mistakes up to the wrong hitters.”
It was the shortest outing by an Indians pitcher since Scott Kazmir lasted just three and one-third innings against Houston in a 19-6 blowout on April 20th. Kluber earned the win in relief that night.
Cleveland squeezed the Tigers for a pair of runs in the seventh. Swisher led off with a single to center, his third hit in as many at bats. Santana doubled into the right field corner to move Swisher to third. Reynolds grounded out to second, scoring Swisher. Brantley followed with a sacrifice fly to left to score Santana and to again cut the Detroit lead in half, 8-4.
Swisher accounted for half of the Indians’ hits and scored half of the team’s runs on the night. He finished a home run short of the cycle.
Martinez pushed the Tiger tally into double digits with his first hit of the ball game in the bottom of the eighth, an RBI single to give the game its final 10-4 score. Every Tigers player in the starting lineup had at least one hit and all but Hunter scored at least once.
“This team and that lineup will make you pay for mistakes,” said Francona.
Scherzer (5-0) was done after eight and remains undefeated on the season. He allowed four earned runs on five hits and struck out seven. He retired eight straight batters twice during the game. He remains the active leader in starts without a complete game (140).
“We scored four. He’s one of the better pitchers in the game,” said Francona, “so you’re going to have to scratch and claw for everything you get because his stuff is so good.”
With the win, the Tigers (20-13) maintain their lead in the AL Central and improve to 11-4 at Comerica Park this year. The Indians (18-15) fall two games behind them in the division.
“We have a lot more games,” said Francona. “When you make mistakes, learn from them and move on the next day. When you win, you keep going. When you lose, you play better.”
Ubaldo Jimenez (2-2, 6.37) will take the ball for the Indians Saturday. He has won consecutive starts for the first time in a year. He has not won three straight decisions since July 9th through 19th of 2011 while a member of the Colorado Rockies.
Justin Verlander (4-2, 1.55) will oppose for the Tigers. He is 14-13 in his career against the Indians with a 4.55 ERA. He looks to avoid becoming the sixth straight former Cy Young Award winning pitcher to lose to the Indians this season.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 PM. Follow along on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and the Cleveland Indians radio network.
Photo: Leon Halip/Getty Images