It was far from a textbook example of quality baseball, but not every win is going to be pretty. The Tigers were happy to take a split in the rain-shortened two game set against Cleveland at Comerica Park.
Ian Kinsler was the catalyst, driving in four runs. His three-run homer in the fifth was the key blow as the Tigers came from behind.
Justin Verlander was okay but inefficient, lasting just five innings thanks to 113 pitches and four walks. He did strike out seven, and he could’ve lasted longer had his defense not let him down (though on one of Detroit’s three errors on the day, he only had himself to blame).
Bad defense had a hand in three of Cleveland’s five runs. With two out and nobody on in the fourth, Asdrubal Cabrera laid down a bunt. Verlander fielded it and would have been better off holding onto the ball, but he uncorked an ill-advised throw to first, allowing Cabrera to reach second and score on David Murphy’s single.
In the fifth, with a runner at first and two out, Mike Aviles hit a ground ball to third. It was hit hard, but it should have been handled – instead, it went right through Nick Castellanos’s glove. Verlander didn’t respond well, walking Carlos Santana and allowing a single to noted Tiger killer Michael Brantley that brought in two runs and gave the Indians a 3-1 lead.
The Tigers offense woke up from there with some help from Salazar, who had been cruising but lost the strike zone in the fifth. Salazar managed to walk both Alex Avila and Alex Gonzalez back-to-back before giving up the homer to Kinsler that put the Tigers ahead for good.
Kinsler helped the Tigers add insurance the next inning. Rajai Davis got hit by a pitch, went to third thanks to an errant pickoff attempt, and scored on a Kinsler single. The lead was now 6-3 and looked safe, but Ian Krol served up a two-run homer to Brantley (again) to make it a very uncomfortable 6-5.
Davis also had a hand in the seventh Tigers run. Castellanos opened the inning with a single, and pinch-runner Andrew Romine ended up at third after a stolen base/wild throw combo. Davis then singled in Romine to give the Tigers a vital insurance run. This set up a save situation for Joe Nathan, who closed it out with little trouble, retiring the side in order.
The Tigers will open a series at home against their mortal enemies, the Angels, starting tomorrow night.