Cleveland — Tigers starting pitcher Mike Fiers has done some good work against the Indians over his career. He came in with a 3-1 record, a 2.04 ERA and two starts this season where he allowed only two runs over 15 innings.
And, he breezed through the first three innings on 35 pitches, allowing just one hit — a solo home run to Francisco Lindor.
The Indians, though, kept pecking away, chasing Fiers after five innings and then blowing it open, beating the Tigers, 10-0, Friday in the soggy opener of a three-game weekend set at Progressive Field.
The game was delayed an hour and 41 minutes by rain.
"They have a great lineup, one through nine," Fiers said. "They make you pay for your mistakes — walking guys, not getting ahead. But I've got to keep the ball in the ballpark, too.
"The two home runs sealed the deal for them. I've got to make better pitches."
Indians designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion took two swings against Fiers in his first two at-bats. The first one, a slider, he lined out to center field, a ball that left his bat with an exit velocity of 103 mph.
The second one, a four-seam fastball, left the yard — a two-run home run into the seats in left field.
Later, in a five-run seventh off reliever Johnny Barbato, the Tigers walked Jose Ramirez intentionally (one of four walks for the Indians' slugging third baseman) to load the bases for Encarnacion.
"That's not the guy you want to walk to get to," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But we tried to go with a guy who might hit a ground ball and we could get a double play.
"That's not a fun thing for a manager to do. But you play the percentages and this time the percentages didn't work."
Encarnacion singled in a run and then raced home with three of his teammates when Yonder Alonso clubbed a grand slam home run.
"They got on a roll and jumped us pretty good," Gardenhire said. "But we've two more games left here. We can even the series tomorrow and try to win the series on Sunday. We knew going in this was going to be a tough series — we've got to get tough ourselves."
Fiers got a bad break in the fifth inning. He struck out Tyler Naquin to start the inning, but the ball bounced past catcher James McCann to the screen and Naquin was on first. He scored on a hit-and-run double by Michael Brantley.
Fiers was done after five innings, giving up half the runs (four) he allowed total in his first six starts against the Indians.
"I felt like I was kind of forced to throw the ball more middle (of the plate)," he said, referencing the strike zone of home plate umpire Kerwin Danley. "I wasn't getting the calls so I came in more. Pitches around the edges that could have gone either way went their way.
"I ended up getting in hitter's counts and they made me pay."
The Tigers, meanwhile, were held in check by Indians rookie right-hander Shane Bieber. In his third big-league start, he limited the Tigers' offense to four hits over seven scoreless innings.
"He threw the ball well," Gardenhire said. "He kept it down in the zone, had a real nice breaking ball. We didn't get too many big swings. The guys were coming back saying his ball was jumping pretty good.
"His velocity wasn't that great (91-93) but they said the ball had jump."
Bieber struck out five of the first six hitters to start the game and allowed just one hit through four innings. He finished with nine strikeouts.
Back-to-back singles by John Hicks and McCann in the fifth provided the first spot of bother, but Bieber got Jose Iglesias to bounce into a force play and he struck out JaCoby Jones swinging at a slider in the dirt.
In the sixth, Leonys Martin walked and Nick Castellanos singled with one out, but Victor Martinez hit into his second double play of the game. He hit the ball hard up the middle, but Lindor was shifted over behind the bag. He flipped to Jason Kipnis, whose throw to first got Martinez by a half-step.
That was the extent of the Tigers pushback.
It continues to be a one-sided fight between these two teams. The Tigers are 3-8 against the Indians this season, 0-5 at Progressive Field. Going back to July 2017, they are 4-17 overall. And going back to June 2015, they are 6-21 in Cleveland.
They are also winless in Ohio this season — losing twice in Cincinnati earlier this week.