Behind a barrage of triples, the Cleveland Indians tagged Detroit starter Jordan Zimmermann for seven runs and held on with an incredible double play to end it for a big 7-4 win over the Tigers on Friday night to start their ten-game roadtrip.
Things got dicey in the bottom of the ninth with Miguel Cabrera at the plate as the tying run with one out against closer Cody Allen. Allen had gotten James McCann to ground out for the first out before striking out Andrew Romine, who reached on an error by Chris Gimenez, whose throw down to first pegged Romine in the lower back. Ian Kinsler and Cameron Maybin singled to make it a 7-4 game before Cabrera tagged a fly to deep center that Rajai Davis juggled before making the catch right in front of the scoreboard. Davis fired in to first to complete the long double play as the Tigers base runners thought Davis had dropped the ball.
“I was able to keep my focus though and reel it in, late,” said Davis. “I was just trying to catch the ball.”
The Indians (42-30) have now won seven straight games and seven straight over the Tigers to start their season series. The Tigers (38-36) saw their four-game winning streak come to an end and fall to 21-14 at home this season, including 0-4 against Cleveland.
“It’s just a mindset. We’re just confident and having fun right now,” said Kipnis about the success this season against Detroit. “But it really starts with our starting pitching. They’re setting the tone the whole time. You look at a guy like tonight, Salazar has been on fire the whole season. Obviously didn’t have his best stuff but we ask all you do is at least keep battling, keep us in a position to win the game. Our offense is going well right now and we were able to get a lead. We took our foot off the gas a little bit but you can’t do that in the Central and we came away with a win and we’ll take it.”
Zimmermann retired the first seven in order before the Indians started a rally in the third. With one out, Gimenez and Davis each singled to right. Carlos Santana moved both runners up with a groundout to first before Jason Kipnis tripled to deep right to drive both runners in and give Cleveland a 2-0 lead.
The Indians sent nine men to the plate in the fourth to break the game open. Mike Napoli struck out swinging before Jose Ramirez tripled to deep center field. Juan Uribe was plunked in the Chief Wahoo patch before Lonnie Chisenhall tripled both runners in on a misplay by Steven Moya in right to double the Indians lead to 4-0. Gimenez singled through the pulled in infield to score Chisenhall to make it a five-run lead. Davis grounded out, moving Gimenez to second, but Santana doubled to right to knock home Gimenez with the fourth run of the inning. Kipnis followed with the third triple of the frame, scoring Santana and ending Zimmermann’s evening.
Salazar ran into trouble in the fifth as the Tigers cut into the Indians lead. Moya and McCann each singled to start the inning. After a wild pitch, Romine walked to load the bases. Kinsler singled to drive in Moya with Detroit’s first run and Maybin grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring McCann easily and Romine after a throwing error from Francisco Lindor.
Former starter Mike Pelfrey shut the Indians down in relief, throwing four and one-third innings of scoreless work out of the ‘pen, giving up three hits while striking out two. His Saturday start had been backed up until Tuesday so that he could work on some things, but after sparing the Detroit bullpen, he will likely be pushed back even further. Former Indians reliever Mark Lowe threw a perfect ninth against his former club.
Dan Otero worked one and one-third innings of work for Cleveland, giving up a pair of hits. Bryan Shaw struck out one and gave up a hit in a scoreless eighth, and Allen gave up two hits and an unearned run in the ninth to wrap up the game.
SALAZAR GETS NUMBER NINE
Salazar (9-3, 2.40 ERA) struggled with his command throughout the night and was unable to get through the sixth inning. He allowed three runs on four hits, but walked five batters on the night while throwing 57 of 100 pitches for strikes.
“His stuff was good,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “Again, I think sometimes his stuff is so good he doesn’t keep it in the zone.”
ZIMMERMANN TAGGED WITH SEVEN
For the third time this season, Tigers starter Zimmermann (9-4, 3.81) allowed seven earned runs in a start. He lasted a season-low three and two-thirds innings, giving up seven runs on nine hits while striking out three in his first start against the Indians since 2013.
SHUTTING DOWN THE SLUGGERS
Both Cabrera and Victor Martinez were 0-for-4 Friday against the Indians and are now 9-for-48 on the year against Cleveland with just one run batted in.
Cabrera hit into three double plays on the night.
KIP TRIPLES TWICE
Kipnis had two hits in five trips to the plate on the night, delivering a pair of triples while driving in three runs.
“You don’t come in here trying to change too much,” said Kipnis. “Instead of trying to yank or anything like that, you just stay through the ball.”
It was the first time the Indians have had four triples in one game since August 12, 2001, against the Texas Rangers. The three triples in the fourth inning by the Tribe tied a club record for triples in one inning, last done on April 10, 1968, when Vern Fuller, Jose Cardenal, and Tony Horton each tripled in the fifth inning against Chicago White Sox starter Joe Horlen in a four-run fifth on the way to a 9-0 two-hit shutout by Sonny Siebert.
TITO’S MILESTONE WIN
The win for the Indians was the 300th career win in the dugout for Francona as the Tribe’s skipper.
FUN WITH NUMBERS
The Indians are now 22-10 against the AL Central Division this season. When scoring first, the Indians are now 31-7 and have won 17 of their last 18 games in that situation.
HITS FOR DAYS
The Indians had five different players put together two-hit days against Tigers pitching on Friday. Santana had a single and a double leading off. Kipnis had his two triples. Cleanup man Napoli had a pair of singles. Catcher Gimenez had two singles and a pair of runs scored. Davis beat up on his former teammates with two singles.
Game two of the three-game series between the Tigers and Indians is scheduled for a 4:10 PM ET start on Saturday.
Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 3.26) will take the ball for the Tribe, while the Tigers will counter with Anibal Sanchez (4-7, 5.97), who makes his return to the Detroit rotation. His last six outings have all come in relief, where he was 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA.
Photo: AP Photo/Carlos Osorio