The Indians had the stronger grip as they scored three runs in the first inning Saturday night to beat the Tigers, 4-1, for their sixth straight win. The victory gave the Indians a seven-game lead in the AL Central.
Last year at this time, they led the division by a half-game.
The Tigers squeezed Bauer (7-5, 2.44) for 27 pitches in the first inning, but he didn't allow a run to score. He struck out the first two batters of the night, put the next three on base, then whiffed James McCann to end the inning.
Liriano, just off the disabled list, was not as fortunate. The Indians worked him for 39 pitches in the first. Jose Ramirez, who walked a career-high four times in Friday's 10-0 win, singled home the Tribe's first run after Francisco Lindor opened with a single and Michael Brantley walked.
Ramirez's single easily scored Lindor, but Brantley was thrown out at third as Ramirez took second. A wild pitch put Ramirez on third and Edwin Encarnacion delivered him with a single through the middle for a 2-0 lead. The RBI was Encarnacion's seventh in the last four games.
Liriano (3-3, 3.94) struck out Rajai Davis, but not before his second wild pitch of the inning moved Encarnacion to second. The extra base proved helpful as Brandon Guyer singled to center. Third base coach Mike Sarbaugh waved Encarnacion home, but the throw from Leonys Martin beat him to the plate.
Encarnacion, however, knocked the ball out of catcher James McCann's glove (an error on McCann) and tapped the plate with his right hand for a 3-0 lead.
Bauer was still fighting himself in the second when he wild pitched JaCoby Jones home, but that was the only run he allowed in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out 11, walked two and allowed five hits. He is 4-0 with a 1.23 ERA against the Tigers this season, striking out 40 and walking five in 29 1/3 innings.
Overall, Bauer has struck out 140 batters in 107 innings in 16 starts. He entered the game ranked fourth in the AL in strikeouts.
Bauer's 11 strikeouts represent his seventh start this season with 10 or more strikeouts. He's done it five times in his last six starts.
The Indians stretched the lead to 4-1 in the fifth on Lindor's leadoff homer. It was his 18th of the year, second in as many games and 11th at Progressive Field.
Oliver Perez, Neil Ramirez and Cody Allen closed out the Tigers, recording five more strikeouts for 16 on the night. Ramirez pitched a scoreless eighth to give him 10 1/3 scoreless innings in June. Allen pitched the ninth for his 16th save.
Allen needs one more save to tie Bob Wickman for the franchise lead in saves with 139.
What it means
The Tribe is 9-3 in the season series against the Tigers. The Tigers, meanwhile, have lost nine straight at Progressive Field.
Liriano threw 75 pitches, 39 (52 percent) for strikes. Bauer threw 112 pitches, 72 (64 percent) for strikes.
Thanks for coming
The Tigers and Indians drew a sellout crowd of 34,435 to Progressive Field on Saturday night. First pitch was at 6:10 p.m. with a temperature of 73 degrees.
It was the second sellout of the season.
The Indians and Tigers conclude this three-game series Sunday when Adam Plutko (3-1, 5.04) faces Detroit lefty Matt Boyd (4-5, 3.63) at 1:10 p.m. SportsTime Ohio, WTAM and WMMS will carry the game.
This will be Plutko's first appearance since coming out of the bullpen on June 16 against the Twins. It will be his second appearance against the Tigers after facing them in relief on Sept. 27, 2016 at Comerica Park.
Boyd will be facing the Indians for the first time this season. He's coming off a loss to the Reds in which he allowed five runs in four innings. He's 1-2 with a 1.78 ERA against the Indians in six appearances.