Fifth-inning rally helps Tigers top Indians 7-3

Miguel Cabrera was 2 for 5 and is hitting .619 (26 for 42) with five homers and 16 RBIs in the season series.

Tony Dejak

The Cleveland Indians had finally found a way to stop Miguel Cabrera.

With the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Cleveland’s Danny Salazar induced Cabrera to hit a 45-foot dribbler in front of the plate. All Salazar had to do was pick up the ball and throw to the plate to start an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play.

It was an easy enough play that a Tigers pitcher could have made it in the 2006 World Series, and it would have provided a huge lift for the Indians. Cabrera is hitting over .600 against Cleveland this season, so the play would have exorcised that particular demon while keeping the game tied at 1.

With all that on the line, Danny Salazar turned into a Little League player, and not a very good one. As he took the ball out of his glove, it slipped out of his hand like a bar of wet soap, landing gently behind him on the infield grass.

Andrew Romine scored, the bases were still loaded, and the Indians reverted to the team from Major League. Victor Martinez singled to make it 3-1. Yoenis Cespedes lined a shot up the middle, and it was 5-1. Even slumping Nick Castellanos got into the act, lining a double into the right-field corner to give the Tigers a 7-1 lead.

That was it for the Indians, who didn’t score again until adding two meaningless runs in the ninth. The win moved Detroit to 9-2 against Cleveland this season and 35-14 since the start of the 2013 season.

The Tigers have now scored 27 runs in a three-game winning streak, led by, of all people, Andrew Romine. Romine homered for the second time in three days — he had only hit two in 211 career games before that — and started the fifth-inning rally with a double.

"I don’t even want to think about it," joked Romine, who pulled within one of his father’s career total of 5. "We’re all just watching Miggy and trying to be like him. It floods throughout the dugout when you see what he’s doing."

Cabrera even won over a Cleveland fan in the bottom of the fifth. A young fan made a nice catch of a foul ball with his hat, and then started playfully yelling at Cabrera, saying he "looked bored."

Cabrera laughed, and at the end of the inning, he told the young man to stay where he was.

"I thought he might be telling me to wait because I was talking too much, but I stayed here," the fan told FOX Sports Detroit’s Johnny Kane. "Then he came back, and I couldn’t believe it."

Cabrera delivered another ball, one of his bats and a pair of batting gloves to the star-struck fan. He told Kane that he was still an Indians fan, but when Cabrera singled in the 7th, the cameras caught him cheering for his new friend.

Cabrera acknowledged the gesture later Tuesday evening, responding to a tweet about it by simply saying "The love of the game."

The Tigers will get a chance to sweep the Indians and convert a few more fans Wednesday afternoon on FOX Sports Detroit, but they will have to do it without Justin Verlander. 

Verlander, who threw 117 pitches in his last start, will miss the game due to mid-back soreness. Buck Farmer was called up from Toledo to pitch, while Ian Krol was optioned to the Mud Hens.