CLEVELAND: The Detroit Tigers defeated the Indians 6-4 in the first of a three game series Friday night at Progressive Field.
The Tigers got on the board with a first-pitch home run by Victor Martinez in the fourth inning. The homer was the 18th of the season for Martinez and scored Miguel Cabrera, who led off the inning with a single.
Other than the homer, Indians starting pitcher Corey Kluber pitched a fine game. Kluber threw seven innings, struck out six and walked one. He allowed just the two earned runs on eight hits and the homer. Of his 109 pitches, 72 went for strikes. The loss drops Kluber’s record to 6-5 on the season.
Things got ugly when former Indians closer John Axford entered the game, though. Axford struck out the first batter he saw — Ian Kinsler, before allowing a single to Austin Jackson. The Tribe almost turned a double play in the next at-bat with Cabrera at the plate, but he just beat out the throw to first. The next batter was Martinez and Axford promptly sailed a pitch over catcher Yan Gomes’ head, allowing Cabrera to advance to second. The Indians then elected to intentionally walk Victor Martinez to face J.D. Martinez, who hit a three-run homer to right field on the first pitch he saw.
After Axford’s blowup, the Indians struck back with a couple of homers of their own in the bottom of the eighth to make things interesting.
Mike Aviles and Michael Bourn led off with singles before Asdrubal Cabrera parked his eighth home run over the wall in left field.
After a Jason Kipnis flyout, Carlos Santana hit his 10th homer of the year to cut the deficit to 5-4.
In the wake of the Tribe’s eighth-inning surge, their inability to string hits together earlier in the game became more painful.
In the second inning, they had two on with one out after singles by Gomes and David Murphy. However, the top of the order failed to bring them home.
In the sixth, Bourn led off with a single before Asdrubal Cabrera swung at the first pitch and hit into a double play. Kipnis and Santana followed up with singles that would have scored Bourn if not for the double play.
To make matters worse, Lonnie Chisenhall then swung at the first pitch and popped it up to second base, ending the inning with three hits and no runs for the Tribe.
The Tigers tacked on an insurance run in the ninth on an RBI double by Ian Kinsler.
Santana led the Indians at the plate with a single and a homer. Leadoff hitter Bourn and No. 9 hitter Aviles each had two singles. Aviles continues to fill in for Michael Brantley in left field, who is dealing with a mild concussion after a play at second base on Monday. Chisenhall reached twice on a single and a walk.
The game was played in front of a crowd of 33,545 — the largest Progressive Field has had since July 5, 2013, barring Opening Day and the playoffs.
August Fagerstrom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.