Indians go for sweep of Tigers, 11th straight win
DETROIT — Edwin Encarnacion has helped Cleveland beat Detroit three straight times this weekend and Sunday will be on hand to try to aid the Indians in their bid to sweep the Tigers in the series finale.
Encarnacion had a key RBI single in Cleveland’s four-run first inning Saturday night as the Indians defeated the Tigers 5-2 to run their winning streak to 10 games.
“When we signed him this year,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said, “we said, ‘If he’s healthy, you can put those numbers in ink. He does it every year.’ And he’s doing it again. And my goodness, it’s nice to have him in our uniform.
“He got off to a really slow start. Maybe everybody around panicked, but he never did. You look up now and it’s September and his numbers are back again. He’s been a big part of what we’re trying to do.”
Encarnacion is a career .273 hitter against Detroit in 209 at-bats. He has 10 home runs and 32 RBIs against the Tigers.
Cleveland goes for the sweep of Detroit with right-hander Josh Tomlin (7-9, 5.83 ERA) returning from the disabled list to face Detroit. Tomlin has not pitched since July 30 at Chicago, a game he left in the fifth inning with a left hamstring strain.
Tomlin can’t be expected to pitch deep into the game after he only had one rehab start, lasting 3 2/3 innings. It’s September, though, so he’ll have plenty of bullpen help.
Tomlin has started 11 times, plus five relief appearances, in his career against Detroit. He is 6-6 with a 5.48 ERA against the Tigers and did not get a decision in his only start against them this season.
Detroit has left-hander Chad Bell (0-1, 5.48 ERA) making his first major league start in the game.
“You never know what’s going to happen in the major leagues,” Bell said Saturday. “It’s 162 games, a long season. You have to be ready for anything.”
Bell threw 67 pitches in a four-inning relief appearance against the New York Yankees on Aug. 23, allowing two earned runs (three total), five hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
“Last year, I think they used nine or 10 starters,” Bell said. “This year, I think it was only six a week or so ago.”
Bell was called up Detroit early in the season and was sent back at least once due to roster considerations. He has relieved three times without getting a decision against Cleveland this season, compiling an 11.12 ERA in 5 2/3 innings.
Starting isn’t foreign to Bell. He began the season in the rotation for the Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens before coming to Detroit to work in long relief.