Tigers 9, Indians 4

Torii Hunter came up one measly single shy of history.

It’s about the only thing the All-Star-studded Detroit Tigers

haven’t accomplished during two days of dominance inside

Progressive Field.

Hunter drove in three runs and fell a single short of hitting

for the cycle, and Miguel Cabrera cracked a two-run homer as the

Tigers overpowered the Cleveland Indians again, 9-4 on Saturday for

their fifth straight win.

Hunter hit a two-run homer, tripled and doubled as the Tigers

won their seventh consecutive game over the Indians and pushed

their lead in the AL Central to 3 1/2 games. Needing just a routine

base hit in the eighth inning, Hunter grounded out weakly to

reliever Vinnie Pestano.

”I tried to bloop it, but it just didn’t work out,” said

Hunter, who would have already had his cycle but was robbed by

outfielder Michael Bourn’s diving catch in the third. ”That was my

single. He ruined it for me. I’ll have to talk to him

tomorrow.”

Detroit improved to 8-2 against Cleveland this season, and the

Tigers have won 11 of the last 14 games in what has been a lopsided

rivalry.

The Indians came into the four-game series hoping to cut into

Detroit’s lead. Instead, the Tigers have opened some distance and

are threatening to widen the gap.

”We’ll show up tomorrow,” Indians manager Terry Francona

promised. ”We certainly need to do better against them. They’re

the team that is directly ahead of us and they’ve kind of had their

way with us, but I don’t think we’ll show up tomorrow and not feel

we’re going to win. But we need to play better.”

The Tigers have outscored the Indians 16-4 in the first two

games of the series and Detroit still has Doug Fister (6-5) and Max

Scherzer (13-0) scheduled to pitch.

Anibal Sanchez (7-5) returned from the disabled list and pitched

five innings for his first win since June 4.

Cabrera and Prince Fielder homered in the third off Carlos

Carrasco (0-4), who was recalled from the minors to face the AL’s

best hitting team.

Nick Swisher and Ryan Raburn went deep for Cleveland, which has

dropped four straight.

In the eighth, the Tigers learned that Cabrera will make his

first start for the AL in the All-Star game and will be joined by

five teammates; Hunter, Fielder, shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Scherzer

and Justin Verlander. Detroit’s Jim Leyland will manage the AL

squad for the July 16 game at Citi Field in New York.

”I’m very happy for all our guys,” Leyland said. ”Everybody

from the Tigers was a players’ choice. The one guy I added was

Justin Verlander and I don’t think that’s really going out on the

limb too damn far.”

Hunter said Cabrera’s first All-Star start was long overdue.

”I couldn’t believe he’d never been a starter,” Hunter said of

Cabrera, who won the Triple Crown last season. ”He’s been the best

hitter on the planet for a long time.”

The Indians will be represented by pitcher Justin Masterson and

second baseman Justin Kipnis, who had his hitting streak stopped at

16 games.

Leyland picked both Cleveland players, selections that delighted

Francona.

”I knew all along that the process is what it is and I knew he

would put his heart and soul and brains into it and try to do the

best job that he could,” said Francona, who managed the AL team in

2005 and 2008. ”Sometimes it’s an impossible job, but knowing him

I knew he would do the best he could for every team.”

Hunter’s two-run homer in the sixth put the Tigers ahead 9-1.

With a chance to become the first Tigers player to hit for the

cycle since Carlos Guillen in 2006 – and the first to do it in

Progressive Field history – Hunter tapped out on a slow roller.

Sanchez had been sidelined since June 16 with a strained

shoulder. With the luxury of a large lead, he was able to pitch

relaxed and allowed one run and three hits before Leyland pulled

him after 73 pitches.

Carrasco wasn’t so lucky.

He survived his first trip through Detroit’s vaunted lineup

unscathed, but the right-hander wasn’t so fortunate the second time

around as the Tigers roped two homers, two doubles and a single in

the third off Carrasco, who hasn’t won in the majors since June 29,

2011. He missed all of 2012 following Tommy John surgery.

Cabrera connected for a two-run homer and Fielder followed with

another drive as the Tigers scored four times – all with two

outs.

With one out, Austin Jackson doubled before Carrasco retired

Hunter on a hard liner to center. Cabrera fouled off two pitches

before launching his 27th homer into the left-field seats to make

it 2-0, thrilling thousands of orange-and-blue clad Detroit fans

who made the trip from Michigan.

Two pitches later, Fielder hit his 15th homer, a towering blast

into the right-field seats to put the Tigers up 3-0 in the game and

10-0 in the series.

After the game, the Indians held a brief players’ meeting to

address all that has gone wrong in the past two games.

”We’re definitely not intimidated by them,” Kipnis said.

”We’ve just come out flat the last couple days and we’re looking

to change that. The pressures not really on us, it’s got to be on

them and that’s the way we’ve got to approach it.”

NOTES: The Tigers have six All-Stars for the first time since

1985. … Francona is opposed to the league that wins the All-Star

game receiving home-field advantage in the World Series. ”I’m not

sure I have the answer,” said Francona, who managed the AL team in

2005 and 2008. ”But you play all year in our sport, I think that

should mean something.” … Leyland isn’t sure when 2B Omar

Infante (bruised left shin) will return. He hasn’t played since

being taken out on a slide by Toronto’s Colby Rasmus on

Wednesday.