CLEVELAND – Nineteen runs on 30 hits of combined offense was not exactly how Corey Kluber and Justin Verlander envisioned the line score of Saturday’s game to turn out.
Nevertheless, the two former Cy Young award winners gave up six and nine earned runs respectively in what shaped out to be an unexpected slugfest.
The Indians held the upper hand as they ousted Verlander and the Detroit Tigers pitching staff with five crooked numbers, including four home runs, to win 13-6 and snap a three-game losing streak in front of a crowd of 26,691 at Progressive Field.
Verlander’s misery vs. Cleveland continues
Heading into his 49th career start against the Tribe, his most appearances against any MLB team, Verlander held a 19-21 record and 4.48 ERA in 303.2 innings pitched.
Those numbers took another hit on Saturday.
Three home runs distributed evenly across the first three innings put Verlander and the Tigers in an early 7-0 rut. Ramirez was the first to join in on the bevy of scoring with a three-run blast to plate Francisco Lindor (single) and Michael Brantley (walk).
It was not long before Carlos Santana expanded the lead to five on a two-run homer in the second to nearly the same exact spot as Ramirez’s dinger.
“I think Carlos’ hit really helped,” said manager Terry Francona. “The more they feel it, the more they get aggressive. We kept after them and that was good.”
In the third, Lonnie Chisenhall capped off the barrage of early offense with his second home run in his last three at-bats, another two-run shot over the wall in right.
Two singles to commence the home half of the fifth spelled the end to a rather demoralizing day for Verlander, the six-time All-Star and 2011 AL MVP – 4 IP, 11 H, 9 R (ties career-high), 9 ER (career-high), 1 BB, 4 K (85 pitches, 60 strikes, 70.6%).
“His stuff is really good,” Francona said. “We found a way to really make him work hard and it’s better when you put some runs on the scoreboard along with it.”
Shane Greene allowed two of his inherited runs to score in the inning on another two-run base knock off the bat of Santana.
Detroit responds off Kluber
The Tigers bats awoke from their slumber in the fourth by notching four hits in their first five at-bats, one of which was a three-run homer by Justin Upton to score Miguel Cabrera (double) and Victor Martinez (single). Leading up to the three-run rally, Kluber had struck out six of the first 10 batters he faced en route to three shutout innings of work to open the contest.
One inning later, Jose Iglesias doubled and came around to score on a pair of well-placed groundouts.
“I thought the ballpark was obviously playing small,” said Francona of the 80-degree weather and favorable hitting conditions. “He had a real good slider right from the beginning. Couple mistakes cost him.”
In his fourth time through the Detroit lineup, Kluber issued a walk to Ian Kinsler and single to Nicholas Castellanos, prompting Francona to bring in Andrew Miller.
“I think that’s probably how [the ballpark] usually plays when it’s warmer,” Kluber said. “The game plan is still the same, the same way (to) attack the hitters. That doesn’t change based on the score. We have a plan and we want to have to try and execute it.”
Similar to Greene, Miller allowed two inherited runs to cross the plate on RBI singles from Cabrera and Upton to charge Kluber with six earned runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings.
Bullpen paints finishing touches behind another offensive explosion
Aside from surrendering a trio of hits to three of the first four batters he faced, Miller was able to slither his way past the lower third of manager Brad Ausmus’ lineup for 1.2 scoreless and a hold. The lanky lefty threw 25 of his 27 pitches for strikes.
Amid the bridge from Miller to Cody Allen was another burst of offense headlined by Ramirez’s second three-run homer of the day.
“I feel really good because those are runs for our team,” said Ramirez through the club’s translator Anna Bolton. “We go in focused and we try to hit good pitches.”
“Anything can happen. There’s some days where you’re going to have an ability hit pitches better than other days.’
Not only did the bomb cap off a 13-run performance at the plate, but it also marked the first multi-homer game for Ramirez, who finished with a career-high six RBIs.
“It’s a really reassuring feeling,” Francona said in regards to Ramirez hitting .667 (6-for-9) over his last two games. “He didn’t just do it in the spring (of 2016) when he got called up. He did it from start to finish and you know it’s there.”
For good measure, Abraham Almonte added an RBI single to put another major dent in the Tigers' bullpen.
“We were kind of due to start to swing a little bit,” said Francona. “I’m not sure I would’ve picked Verlander, but we did a good job and we stayed after him.”
Allen secured the seven-run lead by setting down all three batters he faced in the ninth.
Central Division update
Ervin Santana fired a one-hit shutout to lead the Twins (7-4) over the White Sox (5-5).
The finale of a six-game homestand is scheduled for Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET from Progressive Field.
RHP Carlos Carrasco (1-0, 2.13) will look to carry the momentum from his last outing (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, 7 K) into the deciding matchup of the series. The 30-year-old made just 25 starts in 2016 due to a broken metacarpal on his right hand.
LHP Matthew Boyd (1-0, 5.40) is slated for his third appearance of the campaign after tossing six scoreless frames vs. Minnesota on Tuesday. The southpaw has a 5-6 record and 5.48 ERA when facing AL Central opponents.