'They've had our number': Indians extend dominance over Tigers

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor slides under the tag of Tigers shortstop Willi Castro and safely steals second during the first inning on Wednesday.

Detroit — Francisco Lindor's majestic fly ball to one of the deepest parts of Comerica Park just kept going and going, until it hit off the top of the fence and skipped over for a home run.

And as such, the Indians' wild winning streak over the Tigers just keeps going and going, as well  seemingly no end in sight, not unlike this Detroit rebuild.

Lindor's eighth-inning, tiebreaking home run off Buck Farmer helped send the Indians to the 4-2 victory  their 13th straight triumph over the Tigers, dating to early April.

BOX SCORE: Indians 4, Tigers 2

It's been an incredibly dominant stretch by the Indians, who've outscored the Tigers, 98-35, this season. In the 13 games, the Indians have led for 88 innings, trailed for a mere eight, and been tied for 21.

Detroit's offense in the 13 games is 83-for-422 for a .196 batting average. In 117 innings, Tigers batters have struck out 131 times.

For the season, the Tigers are 1-14 against the Indians.

“We are aware that they’ve had our number,” catcher John Hicks said. “They do a lot of things over there that help them take advantage of your mistakes.”

The Tigers actually made a game of this one, tying it up on Dawel Lugo's home run, his third of the season, to lead off the fifth inning. He absolutely destroyed a lollipop curveball from Indians starter Aaron Civale (2-3).

The Indians took the lead right back in the top of the sixth when Lindor led off with a double  it looked like he'd been thrown out by right fielder Travis Demeritte, but replay overturned it  and scored two batters later on a Carlos Santana single.

Back and forth it went in the bottom of the sixth, when John Hicks led off with a hustle single, moved to third base on Victor Reyes' double, and then scored on Willi Castro's sacrifice fly to center. That was Castro's first major-league RBI. Frame that baseball, if not the box score.

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That's because it all went for naught when Lindor hit his one-out bomb in the eighth inning. It was Lindor's 24th home run of the season. It was a change-up, Farmer’s best pitch, and Lindor’s statistical worst. Lindor reached out and went with it, a long way, some 425 feet from home plate.

“Unbelievable,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He crushed that ball. I don’t know how he did that. Strong young man.”

In the ninth against Joe Jimenez, Jason Kipnis added a solo homer, his second of the game. Kipnis has 16 home runs this season  seven this month, and three this series.

Meanwhile, another fine start by Jordan Zimmermann was wasted. The Tigers have won only two of his last 16 starts. He went six innings, allowing five hits and no walks, while striking out five.

In the veteran right-hander's last three starts, each of them against playoff contenders, Zimmermann has allowed four runs on nine hits in 16 innings. During that span, he's walked one, while striking out 14. That span coincides with the time Zimmermann, trying to make up for his lack of velocity, discovered and started throwing a sinker.

“I wish I would’ve had that pitch about five years ago,” he said.

Gregory Soto relieved Zimmermann and pitched a scoreless seventh, with the help of a double play, before Farmer (5-5) was tagged by Lindor.

Civale, meanwhile, went seven innings and scattered six hits, helped out by three double plays. He also struck out five and walked nobody. Brad Hand pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 32nd save, and much of the crowd of 15,834 gave him a nice hand. The allegiance was pretty evenly split for this one.

The Indians' 13-game winning streak over the Tigers ties their longest in the series; Cleveland also won 13 in a row against Detroit from May 1996 through May 1997. This is the Indians' ninth winning streak of 13 or more games against a single opponent.

“We don’t really think about it as far as streaks,” Gardenhire said. “We’re fighting just to kind of survive.

“And they (the Indians) can do that to other teams.”

Since the start of 2016, Cleveland is 54-17 against Detroit.

The Tigers fell to 39-91 for the season, and even uglier, 17-45 at Comerica Park. For some perspective, the Yankees are 20-8 for the month.

The Indians-Tigers series finale is at 1:10 p.m. Thursday.


Twitter: @tonypaul1984