Hunter's blast helps Tigers top Indians
Updated On: Jul 20 2014 04:48:21 PM CDT
DETROIT -- Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch celebrated his 85th birthday on Sunday but Torii Hunter got the biggest gift.
Hunter hit a two-run homer off Cleveland Indians starter Josh Tomlin to give the Tigers a four-run lead and Detroit salvaged the finale of a four-game series with a 5-1 victory on Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.
"That one was for Mr. I," Hunter said of Ilitch, who watched from the owner's box. "He hung the curveball. It was a 1-2 count and I was able to hit it out of the park. I was always told a hanging curveball was a gift from God and you can't miss your blessing, so I tried not to miss the blessing."
Starting pitcher Drew Smyly blessed the Tigers by holding the Cleveland Indians to one run and four hits in seven innings. Smyly (6-8) struck out six while winning his second consecutive start before relievers Joba Chamberlain and Joe Nathan pitched scoreless innings.
"Great game in general," Smyly said. "I just tried to fill up the zone and throw strikes and I was able to do that. I was getting ahead and attacking with the fastball and all of my off-speed pitches were good for the most part. It's huge to come in and get the win to end that little streak."
The Tigers (54-41) prevented the Indians (50-48) from sweeping them in a four-game home series for the first time since at least 1914.
"It's just a crazy game," said Hunter, the Tigers' right fielder. "We just try to minimize the damage. You're going to have two or three games where you look bad and you're going to have 10 games where you look like the best team in baseball, so we just try to stay on an even keel."
Catcher Yan Gomes' 13th home run in the seventh accounted for Cleveland's offense. Tomlin (5-7) allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings while Smyly held the Indians hitless until Gomes' two-out double in the fifth.
"He was flipping that breaking ball over at will," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It had a lot of depth to it. He could change speeds and then early on, he located his fastball away really well. Then, because of that breaking ball, he threw some fastballs that caught some of the plate but we just weren't ready to hit it."
The Tigers jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first. Center fielder Austin Jackson doubled down the left-field line and scored on second baseman Ian Kinsler's single. Kinsler advanced to second on the throw home, moved to third on designated hitter Miguel Cabrera's fly out and scored on first baseman Victor Martinez's sacrifice fly.
Hunter's 13th home run into the left-field stands, which followed left fielder J.D. Martinez's two-out single, made it 4-0 in the fourth.
Gomes ended Smyly's shutout bid in the seventh with his two-out home run.
Chamberlain walked two batters in the eighth but Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis was caught stealing with one out.
"It was bang-bang," Francona said. "I don't have a problem with that. Kip's a pretty heads-up baserunner and he was trying to make something happen."
Third baseman Nick Castellanos' eighth-inning double drove in Hunter, who walked with two out, for the final run.
NOTES: Detroit 1B Miguel Cabrera will start "a game or two" at third base during the team's three-game road trip to Arizona, according to manager Brad Ausmus. That will allow DH Victor Martinez to get in the lineup at a National League park at first base. The Tigers begin a seven-game road trip on Monday night. ... Detroit is 12 games over .500 on the road but are only one game above .500 at home. "I don't really have a concrete reason for it," Ausmus said. "I guess we could wear our gray uniforms at home." ... Cleveland LHP T.J. House and RHP Danny Salazar will be recalled from the minors to start the first two games of a three-game series at Minnesota. House pitched five scoreless innings for Single-A Mahoning Valley on Wednesday after making two starts for the Indians earlier this month. Salazar started the season in Cleveland before getting optioned on May 16 to Triple-A Columbus, where he was 3-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 10 starts. ... Indians RHP Zach McAllister was optioned to Columbus after starting Saturday's nightcap but could be recalled to start against Kansas City on Friday, manager Terry Francona said.
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