The Indians, a night after reaching 10 hits for the first time this season, put together their biggest offensive night on the way to a four-game sweep of the Tigers with a 9-3 victory at Progressive Field.
Francisco Lindor opened the game with a leadoff homer against Michael Fulmer (1-2, 3.86). Jose Ramirez, with the help of a strong wind, added a two-run homer in the second as the Indians ran their winning streak to 11 against the Tigers.
The Indians finished with 15 hits. Jason Kipnis and Bradley Zimmer had three hits each, the first three-hit games by Indians players this year.
Trevor Bauer pitched seven solid innings to continue an impressive stretch by manager Terry Francona's rotation.The Indians have gone 6-1 on this 10-game homestand with the rotation posting a 1.25 ERA (seven earned runs in 50 1/3 innings).
Bauer (1-1, 2.25) allowed two runs with seven strikeouts and two walks. The Tigers have had their way with Bauer — he went 0-2 against them last year with a 13.00 ERA — but he threw strikes Thursday night and kept them off the bases for the most part.
Lindor's blast was his first of the season and the fourth leadoff homer in his career. He hit a 2-2 pitch into the left field bleachers to get the Tribe off and running. Kipnis followed with a double and went to third on a ground out. He scored when catcher John Hicks made an errant throw to third when Kipnis was caught in a rundown on a grounder by Michael Brantley.
It's hardly a coincidence that the rise in offense follows the rise in game-time temperatures. It was 54 degrees on Wednesday night when they reached 10 hits for the first time this season. On Thursday it was 74.
When this series started Monday night, it was 34 degrees.
The Indians put the game away with a four-run second. Lindor doubled home Roberto Perez and Tyler Naquin, who started the inning with consecutive singles against Fulmer. The Tiger ace came into the game with a 0.68 ERA, but allowed nine runs, six earned, in three innings.
Ramirez, after Kipnis grounded out, skied a ball toward right field. When it left the bat, it looked like a pop up, but the wind carried it just over the right field wall for a 6-0 lead. The homer was Ramirez's third of the season.
Something about the Tigers brings the best out of Ramirez. He's hitting .341 (62-for-182) with 11 homers and 32 RBI against them.
The Indians made it 9-1 with three more runs in the fourth. The Tigers helped by making two of their three errors for the game in the inning.
Naquin reached base on an error by second baseman Dixon Machado. Zimmer followed with a single and Fulmer hit Lindor to load the bases. Kipnis bounced a two-run single through the right side of the infield to end Fulmer's night.
Chad Bell relieved and should have been out of the inning when he induced a foul pop from Brantley. Third baseman Jeimer Candelario dropped it to give Brantley another chance. Brantley followed with a double off the wall to score Kipnis.
What it means
Miguel Cabrera doubled past first in the seventh inning for the 2,646 hit in his career. He's tied with Jimmy Foxx for 78th place on the all-time list.
Cabrera, who came into the game hitting .330 (230-for-696) with 45 homers and 151 RBI against the Indians in his career, went 2-for-16 in the series.
Fulmer threw 72 pitches, 46 (64 percent) for strikes. Bauer threw 105 pitches, 74 (70 percent) for strikes.
Thanks for coming
The Tigers and Indians drew 12,901 to Progressive Field on Thursday night. First pitch was at 6:10 p.m. with a temperature of 74 degrees (that is not a typo).
The Indians open a three-game series against Toronto tonight at Progressive Field. Mike Clevinger (1-0, 0.71) will face the Blue Jays and right-hander Marcus Stroman (0-1, 8.38) at 7:30 p.m. SportsTime Ohio, WTAM/1100 and WMMS/FM 100.7 will carry the game.