In what had the potential to be an exciting rematch of former Cy Young pitchers, the game was decided early as the Tigers scored in each of the first three innings against the Tribe ace, while the Indians could do little to put up runs against Verlander after pummeling him for nine runs on eleven hits over four innings when they last saw him in April.
The Indians held a lead before the Tigers could step to the plate as a moment of wildness from Verlander led to the game’s first run, but an opportunity to put up more runs was squandered. Carlos Santana started the contest with a single to right and, after a line out by Francisco Lindor, moved to second on a single from Michael Brantley. Verlander got Edwin Encarnacion to pop up and appeared to pitch around Jose Ramirez, walking him on four pitches to bring up the struggling Jason Kipnis. On a 1-2 offering, a breaking pitch from Verlander got past catcher Alex Avila, allowing Santana to score from third. With two still in scoring position, Kipnis struck out swinging to end the threat.
The Tigers got a run to tie it in the home half of the first. Ian Kinsler jumped on the first pitch of the inning and doubled off of the base of the left field wall. He moved to third on a one-out fly ball to the warning track in right by Miguel Cabrera and came in to score on a single to right by Victor Martinez before Justin Upton struck out looking.
Detroit took the lead for good in the second with a big two-out hit. Avila singled with one out and moved to second on a groundout by Jim Adduci. Andrew Romine knocked the next pitch into the outfield for a double to drive in Avila and give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
Detroit padded its advantage in the third. Nicholas Castellanos singled to start the inning before Cabrera pulled in his hands and relocated a 2-2 offering in from Kluber over the wall in left for a two-run blast, putting Detroit up 4-1. Upton would walk with one out and stole second, putting himself in prime position to score on a two-out single by Avila to make it a 5-1 game.
Verlander retired seven straight before a one-out single by Yan Gomes in the fifth. Lindor drew a two-out walk, but Brantley flied to center to leave a pair.
The Indians got a run in the sixth off of Verlander as Ramirez drew another walk with one out and scored on a two-out triple by Lonnie Chisenhall, but Abraham Almonte grounded out to strand the runner at third.
They made it a bit interesting in the ninth as closer Francisco Rodriguez came on to finish out the game. After retiring the first two batters in the inning, Gomes doubled to right and moved to third on a wild pitch before Santana walked. He moved to second on indifference with the tying run at the plate in Lindor, but he popped out to third to end it.
Rodriguez earned his seventh save of the season and the Tigers (14-12) improved to 4-1 on the season against the Indians (14-12) while tying them in the American League Central standings. They have now equaled the number of wins that they had against the Indians through all of last season.
VERLANDER SETTLES AFTER ROCKY FIRST
Making his 50th career start against Cleveland, Verlander (2-2, 4.21 ERA) was a much different pitcher on the mound for the Tigers on Tuesday than he was in his previous start against the Indians. After the bases loaded scare in the first inning, he limited the damage the rest of the way despite walking four. He worked seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out five. It looked as though manager Brad Ausmus had intentions on lifting him early in the seventh, but he let his ace finish the inning while racking up a total of 118 pitches on the night.
The win was Verlander’s first since Opening Day.
CABRERA RETURNS WITH A BANG
Cabrera’s first game in his return from his brief stay on the disabled list went well to say the least. After landing on the DL shortly after the Indians and Tigers met in April with a groin injury and lingering back issues, Cabrera nearly left the yard in the first before clearing the fence with his big shot in the third that opened up the game for good.
It was a milestone blast for Cabrera as it marked the 450th home run of his career. The home run was his fourth of the season and gave him his tenth and eleventh RBI of the year. He is now 23-for-52 in his career against Kluber with three doubles, six homers, and 12 RBI.
He was lifted late in the game for a defensive replacement after his groin tightened up on him on a cold night from Detroit.
KLUBER EXITS EARLY
As if the rough start against the Tigers was not concerning enough for the Indians, Kluber (3-2, 5.06) did not return to the mound to start the fourth inning. Reports from Detroit indicated that he left the game with lower back tightness and would be reevaluated further.
“It has been bothering me off and on for a few starts now, but this was the first time I couldn’t pitch through it,” Kluber shared after the game. “You have to balance trying to keep going against causing more damage.”
In his three innings, he allowed five runs on seven hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
ARMSTRONG BIG IN RETURN TO LEAD BULLPEN
Right-hander Shawn Armstrong got the call in relief of Kluber and gave the Indians two and two-thirds innings of no-hit baseball. He walked one and struck out three in his return to the Indians roster.
It started a five-inning stretch of scoreless, no-hit relief work by the Tribe staff, as Nick Goody worked five outs with a walk and a strikeout while Boone Logan struck out both batters that he faced in the eighth.
JACKSON HITS DL
Outfielder Austin Jackson landed on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday afternoon and was replaced on the roster by the reliever Armstrong. In his fifth DL trip in the last six seasons, Jackson was sidelined by a hypertension of his left great toe while running out a ground ball in the ninth inning of Monday night’s game. He legged out the single, but was lifted for a pinch-runner.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, manager Terry Francona indicated that the shorter DL time limits helped the club decide to shelve him as they expected Jackson would need more than a few days to get back into playing shape.
Carlos Carrasco (2-2, 2.04) will take the mound for the Indians on Wednesday looking to put an end to the Tribe’s recent losing ways. His 2017 season has started out well and he has been a better road pitcher in his career, which will be needed for him to overcome a 6-7 career record in 20 games against the Tigers with a 4.77 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP.
Matt Boyd (2-1, 3.86) will get the starting nod for Detroit and will look to extend the Indians’ woes this season against left-handed starters. He earned a win in April against the Indians and has allowed just one run over his first ten and two-thirds innings against them.
First pitch from Comerica Park is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.
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