Tuesday, May 21, 2013 11:56 pm
Indians tamed 5-1 by Tigers
By TOM WITHERSAP Sports Writer
Max Scherzer decided it was time.
Scherzer retired 22 straight batters after the first inning and Miguel Cabrera made the Indians pay for not walking him by hitting a two-run homer, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 5-1 win Tuesday night. Cleveland had its winning streak stopped at five and its lead in the AL Central trimmed to 1 1-2 games.
The Indians, who seemingly could do no wrong in sweeping four games against Seattle, were overpowered by Scherzer (6-0). The right-hander allowed just two hits in the first and then made Cleveland's hitters look silly with a nasty array of pitches.
Scherzer shut down baseball's hottest team for eight innings, walking just one and striking out seven, including the final four he faced. His 118th and last pitch was his fastest - a 98 mph heater to fan Drew Stubbs.
"He had his good stuff all the way around from his fastball, a good slider and a good changeup," said Indians leadoff hitter Micheal Bourn, who had one of Cleveland's two singles off Scherzer. "He came out and dominated us."
Cabrera hit a laser shot in the sixth inning off Corey Kluber (3-3) to help the Tigers win for just the second time in six games. The defending AL champions also handed the Indians just their fifth loss in 23 games since April 28.
Scherzer gave the Tigers a much-needed outing and set the stage for Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who will pitch Tuesday night.
"We've got to put that behind us," Bourn said. "Tomorrow we've got Verlander and he's really the ace of their staff."
Andy Dirks hit a solo homer in the sixth and had two RBIs as Detroit won the first game of the short, showdown series.
In the first, Scherzer was touched for a leadoff single by Bourn, a one-out base hit by Asdrubal Cabrera and a hard-hit sacrifice fly by Michael Brantley before he settled in and took control. He mixed his pitches, had Cleveland's hitters off-balance and grew stronger as the game went on.
The Indians came in leading the majors in homers, extra-base hits, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, but did next to nothing against Scherzer.
"That was a dominant performance," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "His last pitch was 98, and when you're up around 115 or 120 pitches and you have that left in the tank, that's saying a lot."
Scherzer, who won five straight starts before getting a no-decision in his last outing against Houston, didn't get much support but was so good he didn't need it.
Before the game, Francona said there's a danger in trying to pitch around Cabrera because Detroit has plenty of other dangerous hitters in its lineup.
"I guarantee you if you pitch around him all day, they're going to score," he said.
Kluber went right at Mr. Triple Crown his first two times up, and retired Cabrera on a grounder to third in the first and routine fly to center in the fourth.
But in the sixth, Cabrera, who homered three times in a loss at Texas on Sunday, did what he does best.
Dirks opened the inning with his fifth homer, a drive into the right field seats to tie it 1-all. Torii Hunter followed with a double that one-hopped the wall in right, bringing up Cabrera with first base open.
Francona elected to have Kluber to pitch to Cabrera, who rocketed an 0-1 fastball over the center field fence to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
Francona said he didn't walk Cabrera because Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta could have made things worse.
"Nobody out, you're asking for trouble," Francona said. "If you walk him and you have first and second with nobody out, you're putting your pitcher in a tough spot."
Detroit added two runs in the ninth on RBI singles by Dirks and Fielder.
The Indians were missing first baseman Nick Swisher, who was placed on the paternity list before the game after his wife, JoAnna, gave birth to the couple's first child.
With Swisher out, Brantley batted cleanup for the first time this season and his sacrifice fly in the first gave the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Bourn led off with a grounder through the box off Scherzer and raced to third on Asdrubal Cabrera's broken-bat single with one out. Brantley followed with a liner to right-center that was run down by Hunter but was deep enough to score the speedy Bourn easily.
That was it for the Indians, though, as Scherzer shut them down.
NOTES: Indians closer Chris Perez has deactivated his Twitter account following two bad outings and harsh comments from some followers. ... Francona doesn't expect to have Swisher back on Wednesday. He can be on the paternity list up to three days. ... The versatile Brantley has now hit in every spot in Cleveland's batting order except No. 9. ... Kluber struck out a career-high eight.