Corey Kluber enjoyed one of the best outings of his short MLB career and the Indians started their road trip off on the right foot Monday as the Tribe beat the Tigers, 3-2, to kick off a three-game series in Detroit. The win boosts Cleveland’s record to 57-78, 16.5 games behind the White Sox in the AL Central.
It didn’t take long for the Indians to get on the board. Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley both got base hits in the first inning to put runners at the corners with two outs, setting Kipnis up to score on Alex Avila‘s passed ball. But the lead didn’t even last an inning as Delmon Young‘s bases-loaded single tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the first.
The scoring resumed in the top of the third. Shin-Soo Choo led off the inning with a base hit off of Anibal Sanchez, then stole second and moved to third on Avila’s throwing error; the catcher’s defensive miscue once again led to a run as Asdrubal Cabrera delivered with a one-out RBI single. This time, Cleveland’s lead lasted an inning and a half before former Indian Jhonny Peralta‘s RBI single made it a 2-2 game.
The Tribe finally broke through for good in the seventh. Lou Marson singled and stole second (yes, you read that correctly) before a Choo walk and a Kipnis singled loaded the bases with one out and sent Tigers reliever Darin Downs to the showers. Cabrera then greeted Brayan Villarreal with a sacrifice fly to put the Indians on top 3-2.
It was all the Indians needed. Kluber left the game in the hands of Cody Allen, who worked a scoreless seventh, and Esmil Rogers, who pitched a perfect eighth. Vinnie Pestano ran into some trouble in the ninth, giving up a leadoff double to Prince Fielder and then beaning Brennan Boesch to put the winning run on base, but he was able to close the door as the Tribe held on for a 3-2 win.
The Good: Corey Kluber threw a quality start, holding the mighty Tigers offense to two runs on six hits in six innings en route to his first MLB win; he also struck out four while walking only one batter. Kudos are also due to Cody Allen, Esmil Rogers, and Vinnie Pestano for keeping the lead intact, and to Jason Kipnis and Asdrubal Cabrera for their multihit games.
The Bad: The Indians scored only three runs despite getting 11 hits and reaching base a total of 14 times. It ended up to be enough, but in a game this close they could have ended up regretting not taking advantage of one of their missed opportunities.
Interesting Tidbit: Monday marked the first time in three weeks that Cleveland won the first game of a series. The last time was August 13 against the Angels.