CLEVELAND — The Indians pitching staff has made steady improvement over the past month. One area though that has become a problem is giving up home runs.
After allowing a Major League-low 25 home runs in their first 40 games, they have given up 45 in the past 33, which is the second most. They gave up two more on Friday as the Tigers prevailed 6-4 at Progressive Field on Friday.
Five of the Detroit runs came courtesy of home runs. In the fourth, Victor Martinez hit a first pitch off Corey Kluber into the right-field stands for a two-run shot. In the eighth, after Martinez was intentionally walked, J.D. Martinez took John Axford deep for a three-run homer to make it 5-0.
In the case of both homers they were fastballs that caught too much of the plate.
Cleveland attempted to rally with four in the eighth on a three-run homer by Asdrubal Cabrera and a solo shot by Carlos Santana off Ian Krol but it came up short.
The home run to Victor Martinez diminished what was a mostly solid outing for Corey Kluber. The right-hander went seven innings and allowed two runs on eight hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
Said Francona of Gomes: "He dodged his way through a really good lineup. Held runners good enough where Gomer (Yan Gomes) could make some throws (caught runners stealing twice). He made pitches when we had to and got us pretty deep in the game. That’s a pretty good job."
Of the 70 home runs the Tribe has allowed this year, which are the third-most in the American League, 10 have been to Detroit. The most Cleveland has allowed this season are 11 to the White Sox.
Detroit’s Rick Porcello pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only six hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
The Tribe did get a boost in the ninth when Michael Brantley came on as a pinch hitter. Brantley was not expected to return until Saturday but went through batting practice on Friday and Francona said doctors cleared Brantley during the third or fourth inning. Brantley, who suffered a concussion during Monday’s game against the Angels, singled to extend his hitting streak to nine.