The home run ball continued to be the biggest source of offense for Cleveland on Saturday, as the Tribe bats blasted five balls over the outfield walls on the way to an 11-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers from Progressive Field.
Cleveland threatened in the first with a pair of base runners, but could not score. That changed in the second as Yu Chang walked with one out and trotted home on a two-run blast from Roberto Perez as the Tribe took the early lead.
Cesar Hernandez made it a 3-0 game with his second extra base hit in as many trips to the plate to start the third. He caught a splitter over the plate and poked it over the left field wall for his first homer of the season.
Skubal got into more trouble in the fourth. Chang doubled to left with one down and was joined on base by Perez after he worked an eight-pitch walk. Andres Gimenez struck out for the second out, but lefty masher Jordan Luplow started a big day at the plate with a three-run moonshot to center to double the Tribe’s lead to 6-0.
Civale cruised on the mound with the big run support. He gave up a single to the first batter that he faced on the night, Robbie Grossman, but he was doubled up two pitches later. Civale struck out a batter in each of his first four innings and faced the minimum in his first six innings of work, giving up just one more hit along the way. That base hit to Nomar Mazara in the fifth was wiped out on a double play grounder by Niko Goodrum.
The Indians added on two more runs against the Tigers bullpen in the bottom of the sixth. Bryan Garcia retired the first two batters that he faced on outs in the air, but walked both Perez and Gimenez. The pair moved up on a wild pitch before Luplow sent a drive deep to left and off of the top of the 19-foot wall. Ruled a double after replay, both base runners scored to give Cleveland an 8-0 lead. Hernandez chipped in his third hit of the game with a single to shallow right to put runners on the corners, but Jose Ramirez was unable to deliver the runner as he flied to left.
Civale gave up his lone blemish of his outing to the first batter that he saw in the seventh, as his second pitch of the inning was sent over the right-center wall by Grossman for a solo homer, ending the shutout. Civale got the next three on grounders around the infield and got the first two in the eighth before turning the game over to Oliver Perez.
Franmil Reyes continued his hot stretch at the plate in the seventh against Tigers’ lefty Tyler Alexander. In a 1-2 count, he caught up with a fastball up in the zone and drove it the opposite way, clearing the right field wall with his fourth homer of the season and extending his hitting streak to six straight while making it a 9-1 game. Alexander gave up two more runs the next inning, walking Perez before Gimenez hit his first homer of the season and the fifth of the day for the Tribe to make it an 11-1 contest.
Trevor Stephan came on for some work in the blowout in the ninth, but ran into a little trouble. He struck out the first batter that he faced before giving up a single to Grossman, his third hit of the night. Willi Castro flied to center for the second out, but Jeimer Candelario took Stephan deep to right for a two-run home run. JaCoby Jones pinch-hit for Miguel Cabrera and reached on a throwing error by Gimenez before Harold Castro flied to left to end it.
The Indians moved to 4-3 on the season and 3-1 at home with their third straight victory. Cleveland has scored 32 runs on the year; 24 of those have scored via home run.
Civale fell just four outs short of a complete game effort and left with 90 pitches made. He allowed just one run on three hits with no walks and six strikeouts to move to 2-0 on the season. Skubal lasted just four innings for Detroit, giving up six runs on five hits (three homers) with three walks and three strikeouts. Garcia was charged with two runs in relief and Alexander gave up three on a pair of homers.
“Runs are awesome…,” Civale shared to close his press conference. “That was fun.”
The Tribe got production from unusual places. Luplow went 2-for-5 with five RBI while coming up just inches from a two-homer game. Hernandez had three hits, scored once, and knocked one in. Chang scored twice, Gimenez did the same while driving in two, and Perez had a perfect day at the plate with a two-run home run and three walks in four trips.
Detroit was held without an at bat with runners in scoring position for the second straight game. All three runs scored came via home run. The Tigers placed pitcher Julio Teheran, scratched from Friday’s contest, on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder strain and recalled reliever Alex Lange from the team’s alternate training site. He pitched a scoreless inning in relief of Skubal.
The Indians will look for the series sweep on Sunday afternoon in a 1:10 PM ET first pitch from Progressive Field. Lefty Logan Allen will make his second start of the season against right-hander Jose Urena.
Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire (via Getty Images)