Monday, February 19, 2018
Sports

Tigers 5, Indians 1

CLEVELAND — Justin Verlander dominated for eight innings and Don Kelly hit a three-run homer off Justin Masterson, leading the Tigers to their 10th straight win, 5-1 over the Indians.

Verlander helped Detroit beat Cleveland for 10th time in 11 games and open a five-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central.

Kelly connected in the fifth inning off Masterson and Miguel Cabrera picked up his 100th RBI as the Tigers improved to 11-3 against their nearest division rival.

The Indians, who are 24-10 against the Central's three other teams, have to hope they can win the next two over Detroit to split the series.

To do that, they'll have to beat Doug Fister and Max Scherzer.

"Detroit has four aces, which is why they are so good," Indians manager Terry Francona said before the game.

Although Scherzer leads the AL with 16 wins and is the front-runner to win the Cy Young this season, Verlander remains the Tigers' top gun and the one they turn to when things get tough.

He gave up an RBI groundout in the second but otherwise handled the Indians with ease. When Cleveland threatened in the sixth with two on and none out, Verlander turned up the heat.

He retired Nick Swisher on a deep fly to right before blowing a 100 mph fastball past All-Star Jason Kipnis for strike two then locking him up with an 84 mph changeup. Verlander then got Asdrubal Cabrera to ground out on another fastball then hit the century mark on the radar gun. As he headed toward the dugout, the right-hander pumped his fist knowing he had probably put the Indians away for good.

Masterson had one bad inning, and it cost him.

Kelly's three-run shot highlighted Detroit's five-run fifth off the right-hander, who hurt himself by hitting two batters during the inning.

First, he plunked No. 9 hitter Ramon Santiago, who had squared to bunt before getting drilled. Austin Jackson followed with a single and Torii Hunter's RBI groundout brought in Santiago to tie it at 1. Cabrera, who missed three games with a hip injury, then sent a drive off the centerfield wall for a go-ahead double, arriving at second with a slow-motion slide.

One out later, Masterson hit Victor Martinez on the right foot. Detroit's DH hopped around in obvious pain and Cabrera even left third base to check on his teammate, who limped to first but stayed in the game. Kelly followed by drilling a 1-and-1 pitch into the Tigers bullpen for his fifth homer to make it 5-1.

Kelly owns Masterson. He's now 11-of-24 (.458) with two homers and eight RBIs. On June 9, he hit a three-run homer off Masterson in Detroit's 4-1 win.

Like his teammates, Masterson struggles with the Tigers. He dropped to 0-3 with a 7.23 ERA against Detroit this season.

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