Tigers erupt in fifth, continue dominance of Indians

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Cleveland — It was the Tigers biggest offensive inning of the season, and maybe their most fortuitous.

Six runs crossed the plate in the fifth inning Tuesday, on just four hits, and the Tigers continue their dominance of American League Central Division rival Indians.

"It doesn't bother me how we score six runs," manager Brad Ausmus said.

With the 7-3 victory, the Tigers have now won 9 of 11 against the Indians this season — all five at Progressive Field, and are 35-14 against them since the start of the 2013 season. They have won 11 of the last 12 in Cleveland.

It was a slow burn for the Indians in this one.

The game was tied 1-1 after Tigers starter David Price worked some magic to wriggle out of a first-and-third, one-out jam in the bottom of the fourth inning.

"That was a very long inning for me," said Price, now 7-2 on the season, winning his last three starts. "Thirty-two pitches. From pitch four I had a runner in scoring position and threw 28 more pitches. I was fortunate not to give up a run."

Box score: Tigers 7, Indians 3

He struck out Brandon Moss on a hotly-debated curveball. Home plate umpire Eric Cooper seemed to give Price a very generous call. Giovanny Urshela, after a 10-pitch battle, flew out to left center — Anthony Gose making a superb running catch.

For Price to throw a curveball on a 3-2 count with runners in scoring position was rare.

"He's a tough hitter and we talked after my start in Detroit," Price said. "We've become friends the last year, year and a half. He's smart. He knows what I am trying to do. I wanted to give him something I haven't thrown in that count to him, maybe ever.

"I got lucky…then the offense picked me up."

Andrew Romine, who homered off Indians starter Danny Salazar in the third, led off the fifth with a double. Romine has reached his career-high in homers (two) in three days. Then with one out, Salazar walked Rajai Davis and Ian Kinsler.

On both, he felt his strike zone was getting squeezed by Cooper. With Miguel Cabrera coming up with the bases loaded, pitching coach Mickey Callaway came to the mound and waited for Cooper to break up the meeting.

He must've said some choice words because Cooper ejected him quickly.

If Salazar wasn't rattled before, he was after he fumbled Cabrera's soft tapper in front of the plate. Instead of a double-play ball, a run scored and the bases were still loaded.

Victor Martinez knocked in a run with a bloop single to left, then Yoenis Cespedes brought in two more with a sharp single to center.

That was the end of Salazar's night. Zach McAllister relieved him and Nick Castellanos greeted him with a first-pitch, two-run double.

It was more than enough support for Price, though he labored through 6.2 innings. In his last start against the Indians on June 12, he pitched a complete-game shutout in just 93 pitches. On Tuesday he was beyond 70 pitches in the fourth inning.

"I wasn't as good tonight but you're not always going to have your best stuff," Price said. "That's when you have to lock in. It's not easy. It was by no means easy. They made it tough for me, battled me all night."

Bloodied but unbowed. After the Tigers got him the lead, he went into shutdown mode. He posted quick scoreless innings in the five and sixth.

"To me, the turning point in the game was Price going out and shutting them down after we scored the six runs," Ausmus said. "That was huge for us."

He got two outs in the seventh, but a double by Jason Kipnis (four hits) put runners on second and third and he was at 114 pitches.

Al Alburquerque came on to get Francisco Lindor to line out to center.

Price gave up nine hits, but he didn't walk anyone and struck out seven.