DETROIT — You can win games in the big leagues without being perfect.
Casey Crosby didn’t throw a one-hit shutout, but he did do just enough to keep the Tigers in it.
Brennan Boesch did not go 4-for-4 with three home runs and seven RBI, but he contributed just enough to help the Tigers defeat the Cleveland Indians, 7-5, before a sellout crowd of 40,851 at Comerica Park Thursday afternoon.
One of the things that helped was the Tigers (26-31) were able to jump on Michigan native Derek Lowe for four runs in the first inning. Quintin Berry, Boesch, Prince Fielder, Delmon Young and Don Kelly all had singles. Fielder, Young, Kelly all drove in runs along with a wild pitch by Lowe.
“That’s something that we really haven’t done too much of that we need to do ,” Kelly said.
Crosby did just what every pitcher hopes to do when he’s handed a lead; he didn’t give any runs back the next inning.
“It’s awesome,” Crosby said of the 4-0 lead. “It kind of let me calm down a little bit. I got a little tense after I let a few baserunners on but I did a better job than last time of calming myself down and getting out of it.”
Crosby, who earned his first major league win, allowed three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings, walking three and striking out two.
“He did fine,” manager Jim Leyland said. “He feels his way a little bit. If he feels like he’s missing, he has a tendency to back off a little bit, which is not good, but at the same time, you can tell he doesn’t feel comfortable. He’s got 94 (miles per hour) in there but he doesn’t feel comfortable at 94 just yet, as far as controlling it. But he hung in there, overall he did fine.”
Crosby admitted that getting his first major league start out of the way against the New York Yankees helped him feel a little better this time out.
“I think this outing was a lot better,” Crosby said. “I was able to focus on my regular routine and doing that stuff. There are times during my outing where I was not able to relax. In the minors, you’re able to relax a lot quicker because the scene is not as big and the stage is not as big so it’s just a progression. I’ll be able to get more comfortable the more time I get on the mound in the big leagues I get.”
One thing that also helped Crosby was the fact that unlike against the Yankees, he had better command of his off-speed pitches.
“That was one of my main things going in,” Crosby said. “I wasn’t able to throw any breaking balls for a strike last time and I was able to throw some more breaking balls earlier this game so it was a lot better.”
The Tigers did commit another error and did not capitalize on a rare Indians error, but they did turn a couple of double plays.
Meanwhile, Boesch, who was 2-for-38 before his first-inning hit, also had a two-out RBI double in the fourth inning. He scored on Miguel Cabrera’s two-run home run.
“I’m just happy that I contributed to this win,” Boesch said. “That’s really the bottom line for me. And If I struck out five times and we still won, I’d feel the same way. The way things are going, it’s just whatever I can do to help.”
That’s really all the Tigers need, for guys not named Justin Verlander, Fielder and Cabrera to do the things they’re capable of doing. Those guys are different and more is expected of them.
Cabrera is hitting .323 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI. He’s behind only Texas’ Josh Hamilton in RBI. Fielder has a 14-game hitting streak and is batting .393 with nine doubles, a triple, four home runs and 21 RBI in his last 23 games. Verlander has uncharacteristically struggled in his last couple of starts but he’s sure to come out of it.
The Tigers got just enough from just enough players and it was just enough to beat the Indians. If they can do that on a more consistent basis, then they should be fine.
“Time to get things rollin’,” Quintin Berry said. “The way we came out today was a good sign for this road trip. We came out swinging, Crosby threw a heck of a game, came out and just kept pounding and pounding them. So it’s huge for us.”