What was hoped to be a key 3-game series at Progressive Field to get back into the playoff hunt for Indians fans has turned out to be a what may be the beginning of a victory lap for the Detroit Tigers.
Detroit ran away with a 10-1 win with a 5-run first after grabbing a 4-2 win the night before in the opener of the series.
The Tigers, who reached the 2006 World Series against St. Louis by the wild card route but have never won the American League Central Division, moved 8-1/2 games ahead of the Indians by winning 15 of 19 since Cleveland came to Detroit on Aug. 18 trailing the Tigers by just 1-1/2 games. Detroit swept a 3-game series with Cleveland at Comerica Park to push its lead to 4-1/2 games and have never looked back.
Cleveland dropped back to third place with the loss as Chicago remained 8 games behind Detroit with a 3-0 win at Minnesota.
That victory lap for the Tigers continued with the lopsided win over the Indians fueled by getting eight runs in the first two innings. The 5-run first included a walk and six straight hits singles after Fausto Carmona retired the first two Tiger hitters with a 2-run hit by former Indian Victor Martinez giving Detroit an early 2-0 lead.
Jhonny Peralta, Don Kelly and Ramon Santiago followed with RBI singles before Austin Jackson ended the inning by making his second out of the inning.
The Tigers, winners of six in a row over the Indians after being swept in a 3-game set with the Tribe in their first meetings to begin the 18-game season series, added three more runs in the second to drive Carmona from the game after only 1.1 innings.
The 3-run Tiger second saw Miguel Cabrera double home a run before another run scored on a wild pitch by Cleveland relief pitcher Chad Durbin and Peralta hit a sacrifice fly.
Rick Porcello, who lost a shutout when Kosuke Fukudome hit a solo home run to lead off the seventh, had a one-hitter without a walk until the Fukudome home run with the lone Cleveland hit through the first six innings being a second inning single by Jason Kipnis.
Porcello (13-8) retired the next 13 batters between Kipnis’ second inning single and Fukudome’s seventh inning home run.
Cleveland collected just one more hit off Porcello when Asdrubal Cabrera followed Fukudome’s home run with a single. Porcello who went 6.1 innings, left after issuing a one out walk to Jim Thome. Phil Coke then struck out Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall to end the seventh and struck out two of three hitters to retire the side in order in the eighth.
Al Alburquerque retired Fukudome and Cabrera on strikes to start the ninth but gave up back-to-back walks to Carlos Sanatna and Thome before Luis Valbuena loaded the bases with an infield single.
Dan Schlereth came in and retired pinch hitter Jason Donald on strikes to drop Cleveland’s recorne when scoring one run or less to 3-26 and 3-14 when scoring once. Three of four shutouts by Cleveland pitchers this season have been by 1-0 scores.
Fukudome, hitting his third home run in a Cleveland uniform and second in two games, kept the Indians from being shutout for the 13th time this season.
Every Tiger in the starting line up had at least one hit with five getting at least two hits, led by Cabrera with a 3-for-4 night with an RBI and two runs scored.
Martinez, with a 2-for-4 night, had three RBI and scored twice in the easy Tiger win before 27,544 at Progressive Field that included $5 tickets for all upper deck seats.
Grady Sizemore, who was 0-for-3 in his second game back from the disabled list and is 0-for-7 in those two games, did not strike out. It was only the 16th game of the 63 he has played this season in which he did not strike out at least once.
In two games against Detorit in this series, the Indians have collected just seven hits with four on Monday in a 4-2 loss. Cleveland has been limited to two runs or less in four of the last five meetings with the Tigers. In a 3-game series Aug. 18-20 at Detroit, the Indians were swept by scores of 4-1, 10-1 and 8-7 before coming home and losing 4-2 and 10-1 in this series.
In winning six straight against Cleveland, the Tigers have outscored the Indians 40-15 with a pair of 10-run efforts in the streak.
The series concludes with a noon Wednesday matinee featuring Cleveland’s Justin Masterson (11-8) facing probable Cy Young Award winner Jason Verlander (21-5)
The two teams meet in a 3-game set Sept. 26-28 at Comerica Park to finish the regular season but by that time the Tigers may have wrapped up their first AL Central title and first division crown since winning the 1987 AL East title.