Cleveland, OH (WKZO) – In a season in which Alex Avila has struggle with the bat, he has however hit some of the most clutch home runs for the Tigers this year. On Monday night he added another one to his list as his three-run ninth inning blast put the Tigers in the lead for the first time as they doubled up the Cleveland Indians 4-2 in the first game of a pivotal four game set between the two top teams in the AL Central.
Trailing 2-0 entering the ninth, the Tigers started off the inning with Prince Fielder doubling off of Indians closer Chris Perez, who then scored the Tigers first run on Victor Martinez’s third hit of the game. Following a walk to Andy Dirks Avila took a 1-0 pitch opposite field for his 10th home run and the game winning runs. Perez was done after that at-bat. This was the fourth blown save for Perez in 21 chances.
Before the four run output in the ninth Anibal Sanchez was in the line for the loss but came away with a no-decision. Sanchez was terrific for Detroit, surrendering just the two runs on only four hits while fanning 11 and issuing two walks over 7 2/3 innings. Sanchez has successfully tossed four quality starts in a row.
Michael Brantley had two hits and scored both runners for the Indians. Both Brantley’s hits were for singles, as he scored the first run in the second on a single from Jason Giambi after Brantley stole second and then again in the fourth on a double from Carlos Santana.
Indians’ starter Corey Kluber was even more impressive than Sanchez, but walked away with a no-decision as well, after he gave up six hits, struck out six and walked one in 7 1/3 scoreless innings.
Al Alburquerque picked up the win after recording the final out of the eighth and Joaquin Benoit continues to excel in the closer roll, tossing a perfect ninth for his 13th save in as many chances.
Torii Hunter and Ramon Santiago each had two hits for Detroit. This was the first time Cleveland had lost at home after leading after eight innings.
The Tigers have won nine in a row and lead the AL Central over the Indians by four games now before heading into Tuesday night’s game. Justin Verlander (11-8, 3.88 ERA) gets the nod in the second game of the series against Justin Masterson (13-7, 3.33). Coverage begins on 590 WKZO at 6:40 with first pitch set for 7:05.