The Cleveland Indians not only have a chance to sweep their first series at Detroit in six seasons, but also trim another game off the Tigers’ lead in the AL Central.
The Indians can complete the four-game sweep with a fifth consecutive victory Sunday against the Tigers, who will try to avoid matching a season high with their fifth straight defeat.
After Corey Kluber came one out away from pitching a complete game during a 6-2 victory in the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader, Carlos Santana hit a tiebreaking, bases-clearing double off Joe Nathan with two outs in the ninth inning to lead Cleveland (50-47) to a 5-2 win in the nightcap.
Owners of an 11-4 record in July and trying to win six straight on the road for the first time since 2008, the second-place Indians are 4 1/2 games behind the Tigers (53-41).
"It’s all about making the push, little by little," said Cleveland outfielder Chris Dickerson, who hit a pair of solo homers off Max Scherzer in the nightcap.
Cleveland last swept a series of any duration at Detroit from Aug. 25-27, 2008, and has never recorded a four-game sweep there. That will be the focus for an Indians club playing in the present and not too caught up in Saturday’s achievement.
"We’ve got to show up in (in a few) hours," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.
The Tigers, meanwhile, have been outscored 25-9 during a four-game skid that followed five consecutive victories. A loser in six of eight at Comerica Park, Detroit dropped five in a row overall May 31-June 5.
"It’s frustrating, especially when you’re playing teams in your division," Detroit’s Austin Jackson said. "You always want to get those wins."
Since his one-hit, 11-strikeout performance in a 5-0 victory at Seattle on June 28, Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin (5-6, 4.21 ERA) has allowed nine runs and 18 hits, including three homers, in 12 2-3 innings to go 0-1 in the next two outings. He yielded four runs and two homers in seven innings of a 5-4, 14-inning loss to the New York Yankees on July 9.
Miguel Cabrera homered off the right-hander, who allowed eight runs – five earned – in four innings of a 10-4 home loss to the Tigers on June 22.
Batting .419 (18 for 43) against the Indians this season, Cabrera is 4 for 7 versus Tomlin.
Detroit’s Drew Smyly (5-8, 4.00) allowed a run in six innings of an 8-2 win at Texas on June 24, but since is 1-2 with an 8.16 ERA. He gave up eight hits and three of his four runs on two homers over 6 2-3 innings of a 16-4 win at Kansas City on July 10.
The left-hander allowed three runs, five walks and seven hits in five innings of a 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Indians on May 19.
Cleveland All-Star Michael Brantley is batting .417 in 11 games against the Tigers this season, and is 5 for 10 with two doubles and a triple versus Smyly.
Detroit’s Ian Kinsler is 3 for 6 with two doubles against Tomlin, but 0 for 16 in his last four contests.