With a victory on the road in Detroit, the Cleveland Indians clinched the American League Central Division title.
Playoff baseball is back in Cleveland. The Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3 on Monday night at Comerica Park to clinch the American League Central Division crown, the eighth in franchise history.
Despite the win, Indians’ fans all over are holding their breath due to ace Corey Kluber leaving after four innings due to right groin tightness.
Buck Farmer made his first start of the year for the Tigers, and gave up four runs over five innings.
The Indians never trailed in the win, despite Kluber’s early exit, with the club’s big four relievers combining to nail it down for the Tribe.
Cleveland took the early lead in the second inning on a two-run home run by Coco Crisp, his second longball of the year since being acquired, but Detroit tied it up in the bottom of the inning on a two-run homer by J.D. Martinez.
The Tribe pulled ahead in the fifth inning when Jason Kipnis drove Carlos Santana in with a double, and Mike Napoli helped Kipnis cross the plate on a sacrifice fly. But the Tigers got a little closer to the lead in the bottom of the inning when Miguel Cabrera knocked in Ian Kinsler with an RBI single.
Roberto Perez made his presence known in the bottom of the seventh when he launched an 0-1 pitch from Justin Wilson into the opposite field bleachers to extend the Cleveland lead. Detroit got that run back in the bottom of the inning when Cabrera brought Kinsler in again on a single.
Perez struck again in the eighth when he drove in Crisp with a single and the Indians added an extra insurance run when Martinez misplayed a ball in right, allowing Davis to score.
That was the extent of the scoring, as the Tribe held the Tigers scoreless over the last two innings to secure the win and the division title.
That absence of sound you hear is the every Indians’ fan holding their collective breath after Kluber left the game early due to what was dubbed a “right groin strain.” Injuries have plagued Cleveland’s pitching staff lately, with Carlos Carrasco suffering a fractured hand on a comebacker to the mound last week and Danny Salazar being out since early September due to a shoulder injury, though the team is cautiously optimistic that Salazar could come out of the bullpen in the playoffs.
Starting pitching has been one of the Tribe’s biggest strengths this year, and Kluber has been a driving force behind that. Having him 100 percent will go a long way towards Cleveland contending deep into October.
Martinez with the Misplay
Martinez very well might have sent the Indians into the playoffs. Up 6-4 in the eighth inning when Carlos Santana stepped into the batter box, a blooper was hit down the right field line that looked like an out as Martinez was racing over to it.
An out was not in the cards, though, as the Tigers’ right fielder dropped the ball allowing Davis to score the all-important insurance run.
Cleveland entered the bottom of the 9th with a lead and handed the ball to closer Cody Allen with his 30th save of the season on the line. We all now how it went, and it was something for Indians’ fans everywhere to celebrate.
Perez ran out to Allen with his hands to the sky, ready to party into the early morning. The Cleveland Indians are the American League Central Division champions. Party up guys. You’ve more than earned it all season long.