In a game billed as a duel between two aces, the outcome of Saturday’s contest between the Tigers and Indians was everything but a pitchers’ duel. Combined, the AL Central foes produced 19 runs and 30 hits, with the Tribe coming out on top 13-6.
My pre-game blog post wished that the Indians’ offensive surge in the ninth inning Friday night would somehow carry over to the next game. And, boy, did it ever! The Tribe’s power show was led by Jose Ramirez who slugged four hits, including two 3-run homers for 6 RBI. In his only other plate appearance, Ramirez drew a walk to reach base all five at-bats.
Jose’s first dinger set the tone in the first inning against Tiger ace Justin Verlander. Coming into this game, Verlander had an impressive 1.35 ERA. But five batters into the game, he was already down 3-0 and the Indians just kept building from there.
Every Indians batter joined the hit parade except poor Yan Gomes who went 0 for 5 with four strikeouts. Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor and Lonnie Chisenhall each had three hits, with Santana and Chisenhall adding home runs of their own.
Even Edwin Encarnacion who has been struggling of late produced a hit and walk. Unfortunately, he also stretched his performance of not hitting with RISP to 0 for 11. Just imagine when he starts to hit — and he will — how potent the Tribe offense can be.
The Indians piled up a 7-0 lead and knocked Verlander out after four innings. On the Tribe side of the mound, Corey Kluber plowed through the first three innings like a true ace, giving up only one hit and striking out six. Then the Tigers woke up in the fourth, getting to Klubot for a double from Miguel Cabrera, a single from Victor Martinez and a home run from Justin Upton to close the gap, 7-3. Kluber lasted through 6.1 innings and ran his K count up to eight.
Andrew Miller came on in the seventh, inheriting two runners. Miller uncharacteristically gave up three singles but the runs were attributed to Kluber. From that point, Miller and Cody Allen combined to shut out the Tigers the rest of the way.
Even if this contest wasn’t the pitchers’ duel many were expecting, it was exactly the kind of game the Indians needed to rev up their bats and their confidence. On Easter Sunday, the Tribe has the chance to win their first series since the opening stretch against Texas. It seems the Indians’ bats heat up at home when the temperature rises. In the first home game where the mercury touched 80 degrees, the Tribe lumber was indeed smokin’.