Indians feast on Tigers’ off-speed offerings

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tyler Naquin of the Indians celebrates with teammates after their sweep of the Tigers.

Detroit — The Cleveland Indians ambushed Anibal Sanchez’s off-speed pitches in the first inning Saturday — sending two of them into the seats.

On Sunday, they did the same to Justin Verlander. This time it was in the fifth inning, after Verlander had well established his fastball through the first four innings. They clouted four home runs off him in a six-run uprising, three of them off change-ups or curveballs.

“I don’t think they were sitting on certain pitches,” Tigers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. “It’s a team that has a really good game plan against us. They find a way to foul good pitches off. They grind pitchers until they make a mistake.”

Verlander’s first pitch of the inning was a hanging curveball that Juan Uribe put into the seats in left field. Two pitches later Tyler Naquin blasted an 85 mph change-up. Mike Napoli hit a slider and Lonnie Chisenhall a change-up.

It’s the first time Verlander or any pitcher in Tigers history had allowed four home runs in an inning.

“I don’t think it was the pitch sequencing as much as it was the execution,” Verlander said.

He called Saltalamacchia to the mound a couple of times during the inning and after the third home run looked back in exasperation at Saltalamacchia. But Saltalamacchia said they were on the same page throughout the outing.

“We were on point the whole game,” he said. “He just left some balls over the plate and they hit them. With a team like that, they don’t miss mistakes.”

It was a hot and humid afternoon and Verlander needed 30 pitches to work through the fourth inning.

“Running around out there, throwing that many pitches, it can wear on anybody,” Saltalamacchia said.

Verlander didn’t accept that excuse.

“I don’t know if that affected my pitching,” he said. “But I know it got me. I know I was completely soaked after that inning.”

Soaked in the fourth, shelled in the fifth. Rough outing.

Verlander’s ERA jumped from 3.78 to 4.30.

Twitter: @cmccosky