Tribe Doubles Home Run Total to Back Kluber to Win; Indians 8, Tigers 2
Bob Toth | On 09, Apr 2019
Corey Kluber allowed one earned run in six innings and was backed by four home runs (and an unofficial Little League homer) as the Indians opened a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers with an 8-2 win.
The Indians entered the day with just four home runs on the year, but they rode the long ball starting with the very first batter of the game, jumping out to an early lead to back Kluber, who was looking to bounce back from an uncharacteristic performance in his last start Wednesday against the Chicago White Sox. Kluber gave the Indians a quality start and left with a healthy lead after six as manager Terry Francona looked to get his rested bullpen some extra work early in the season.
The Tigers sent number one starter Jordan Zimmermann to the mound in his third start of the year in search of his first win of the season and his first career victory against the Indians. He found neither, as he would not finish the fifth inning while allowing three of the Indians’ four homers on the day.
The first one for the Tribe came just two pitches into the game. Leadoff man Leonys Martin celebrated his return to Detroit by attacking a four-seamer from Zimmermann and drove the ball over the wall in right to give Cleveland a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers responded with an unearned run in the home half off of Kluber. Josh Harrison singled to right to open the inning and Nick Castellanos put runners on the corners when he reached on shortstop Eric Stamets’ throwing error. Kluber struck out Miguel Cabrera swinging, but an infield single by Niko Goodrum to second scored Harrison with the tying run. With two on and still only one out, Kluber worked out of the jam, striking out Jeimer Candelario before getting Christin Stewart to pop to third.
The Indians used the long ball again to take the lead for good in the second. With one out, Tyler Naquin’s improved play at the plate continued as he doubled to deep left. Roberto Perez struck out for the second out, but Brad Miller pulled a slider to right that cleared the wall for his first homer of the year, giving the Indians a 3-1 lead.
Kluber retired the side in the second, but he had to work out of a jam in the third. Harrison doubled to lead things off before Castellanos struck out. Cabrera singled to third to put runners on the corners before a second strikeout in the frame, this time from Goodrum. Kluber missed on four straight to Candelario to load the bases, but Stewart flied to center to leave three big base runners on the pond.
Cleveland had a quiet fourth, but got back to work in the fifth and knocked out Zimmermann. Perez found a 1-1 slider over the plate and drove it to left for his first home run of the season and just his second hit of the campaign, pushing the Indians lead to 4-1. Miller walked on five pitches, stole second, and moved to third on the throwing error by Grayson Greiner. A sacrifice fly from Eric Stamets scored Miller with the rookie shortstop’s first career RBI. Blaine Hardy took over and got the next two.
With a four-run lead, Kluber gave up back-to-back hits to start the fifth to allow the Tigers to get a run back. Castellanos singled to right and Cabrera doubled to deep center to make it 5-2.
The Indians got an encouraging sign in the sixth, when Jake Bauers won a lefty-lefty battle with Hardy, taking him out to right for his first homer of the year to make it 6-2.
Reed Garrett took the mound for Detroit in the seventh, but he did not get the support of his defense as the Indians tallied their final two runs. After Perez flied to right, Miller doubled to left with his second extra base hit of the game. Stamets followed with a single that center fielder Mikie Mahtook did not get his glove down on, allowing the ball to skip under the glove and roll to the wall. Stamets motored all the way around the bases and into home plate with a head first dive for the error-aided Little League home run to give Cleveland an 8-2 and give Stamets his second hit and second RBI of the year.
The Indians (7-3) won their fifth straight game while ending the Tigers’ (7-4) own five-game winning streak. The win also moved the Indians into first place for the first time this season.
KLUBER CRUSHES TIGERS
Kluber got in the win column for the first time this season with a quality six innings of work on the mound. He allowed a pair of runs, but just one earned, on seven hits with a walk and eight strikeouts. He showed significant improvements from his prior start against the Chicago White Sox, when he walked three, and his strikeout total was his best of the young season.
Like his teammate Trevor Bauer, Kluber is donating money for each of his strikeouts recorded this season. For every K recorded in the first half, Kluber is donating $200 to help ill children and their families.
Kluber has owned the Tigers in recent memory. Since 2017, Kluber is 6-0 against Detroit with a 0.97 ERA and 49 strikeouts.
“I thought Kluber did a really good of adding and subtracting,” said Francona. “A couple ball they did hit, they hit to the big part of the field.”
Kluber made his third start of the season on the day before his 33rd birthday. He is one of several April birthdays on the club’s 40-man roster and coaching staff, including Jason Kipnis (April 3), Carlos Santana (April 8), Francona (April 22), and Naquin (April 24).
ZIMMERMANN LOSES AGAIN
Zimmermann has had no luck against the Indians in his career and Monday was no exception. The 32-year-old right-hander was 0-5 in seven career starts against Cleveland dating back to 2013 with an 11.08 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP.
He was dealt his first loss of the season on Monday, working four and one-third innings while allowing five runs (four earned) on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts. The wind seemed to play a factor, as he allowed three home runs on the day. He was not sharp in the zone, as he threw just 41 of 73 pitches for strikes and he worked from behind for much of the afternoon (he was ahead of just seven of 18 batters faced in his outing).
NO LONGER STREAKING
Santana’s eight-game hitting streak and nine-game on-base streak came to a close on Monday with an 0-for-4 effort out of the four-hole in the Tribe lineup. His average dropped to .371 with a .436 on-base percentage on the season.
CLEVINGER ON THE SHELF
The Indians suffered some significant news on Monday morning when the club announced that right-hander Mike Clevinger will be shut down for the next six to eight weeks with an upper right back strain (teres major). The young flame-thrower was off to the best start of his career and had put up video game numbers on the mound.
“Nobody on the other side of the field is going to feel sorry for you,” said Kluber. “If we get bad news on a guy, then obviously you feel bad for him and you don’t wish that. But when `play ball’ comes, let’s go out there and compete against the other team.”
The Indians recalled right-handed reliever Nick Wittgren from Triple-A Columbus to take Clevinger’s spot on the 25-man roster.
The Tigers and Indians will meet up for another midweek matinee on Wednesday in a 1:10 PM ET start from Comerica Park.
Bauer (1-0, 0.64 ERA) will draw the starting nod for the Indians, looking to build on his hot start to the year. He threw seven no-hit innings in his last start and has allowed just one run on one hit on the year with 17 strikeouts in 14 innings of work. Left-hander Matt Boyd (0-1, 3.18 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Tigers. He leads all of baseball through the first two weeks of the season with 18.3 strikeouts per nine innings and is tops in the American League with a 0.01 FIP with 23 strikeouts in eleven and one-third innings of work. He struck out a career-high 13 batters in his last outing against the New York Yankees on April 3.
Photo: AP Photo/Carlos Osario