DETROIT — If there is the epitome of a team win, the Indians provided a perfect example during the second game of their doubleheader against the Tigers on Saturday.
From a solid start by Zach McAllister to clutch relief outings by John Axford and Carlos Carrasco to big hits from Chris Dickerson and Carlos Santana, a lot of players contributed to the 5-2 win in the nightcap, giving Cleveland its first doubleheader sweep in Detroit since July 17, 1966.
"I just thought we did so many things well to win that game," manager Terry Francona said. "There were a lot of good things."
McAllister had his best outing since mid-April, allowing only one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings. After running into some trouble in the second, where he gave up a one-out single to Torii Hunter and then walked three of the next four, including Austin Jackson for the game’s first run, the right-hander retired 11 of the final 12 batters he faced.
With the bases loaded and two out in the second, Kluber got Ian Kinsler to foul out to third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall to end the inning.
"I felt like after that second inning I was pleased with the way I was able to battle," McAllister said. "It could have got pretty ugly but I was able to make some pitches and get out of a tough situation. After that I was able to have a good mix and command of my pitches."
Axford came on in the sixth with one out and Miguel Cabrera on second. After throwing a wild pitch, which moved Cabrera to third, Axford struck out J.D. Martinez and got Hunter looking.
After the Tigers tied it at two in the seventh, Carrasco retired the Tigers triple terrors of Cabrera, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez in order. Carrasco ended up getting the win to even his record at 3-3. As for the heart of the Tigers’ lineup, they combined to go 4 for 24 in the doubleheader with Cabrera getting all the hits.
Said Francona of Carrasco: "There was nowhere to put anyone and he went right through the middle of it. He was tremendous. He is earning more responsibility for sure."
For the first eight innings Dickerson provided the only offense, which was a pair of solo shots to right. Not bad for someone who came into the game 0 for 9 against Tigers’ starter Max Scherzer with all but two of those at-bats ending in strikeouts.
This time though he got the better of the reigning AL Cy Young winner. In the third Dickerson hit an 0-1 slider for his first home run as a member of the Indians. In the sixth it was a 2-2 changeup that ended up being Scherzer’s final pitch of the night.
"I have the power. I know that. It’s just I’ve ben a leadoff guy my entire career, so it’s not really in my approach to try to hit home runs," Dickerson said. "I’ve just naturally hit them. I consider myself a line-drive hitter, but with the power where balls can carry out of the park. … When I try to hit home runs, everything falls apart."
Since being acquired by the Indians on July 7, Dickerson has had a hit in six of the seven games where he has had an at-bat. Batting at the bottom of the order, Dickerson is hitting .438 (10 for 23) with two home runs and three RBI. It is the second two-homer game of his career with the other coming May 21 of last season when he was with Baltimore against the Yankees.
With Dickerson in left and Michael Brantley in center, the Indians have been able to weather Michael Bourn’s hamstring injury.
"You don’t ever want to lose anybody, but when somebody comes in and they’re hot, it sort of takes the sting way. And with Kip (Jason Kipnis) hitting first and him hitting down in the order, it’s really been good," Francona said.
Dickerson though wasn’t happy with his at-bat in the ninth. After Roberto Perez led off the inning with a double before being lifted for a pinch-runner, Dickerson was unable to move Asdrubal Cabrera to third. Dickerson struck out and tried to bunt with two strikes instead of hitting away.
With the bases loaded later in the inning, Santana came through with a three-run double to right-center.
"This is something that happens in baseball. Dickerson hits two home runs and no men on base. In my situation, ninth inning, bases loaded, I tried to do good contact and this happened. I don’t try to get a big hit or thinking home run," Santana said.
Added Dickerson: "I was on the bench like, ‘Who cares if I hit two homers tonight.’ We had a chance to win it right there and I couldn’t even get a bunt down. So, yeah, I was pretty bummed. Carlos coming through. That was clutch. Huge."
At the beginning of the weekend, the Indians getting a split of the four-game series would have been a realistic goal. Three out of four would have been great. A sweep though? Yet, after the sweep they are in position for their first four-game sweep at Detroit since 2005.
The Tribe will go into Sunday just 4 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the Central and for the first time this season are three games above .500 at 50-47. Cleveland is 11-4 in July.
"We’ve got to show up in about 10 hours, so no celebrating," Francona said. "It was a good day. Now, we move on and see if we can beat them again tomorrow."