DETROIT (AP) — As well as the Cleveland Indians are playing, sending Corey Kluber to the mound makes them pretty close to a sure thing.
On Saturday night, the combination of Cleveland’s offense and Kluber’s pitching meant that a 10th straight victory was in the bag long before the sun set over Detroit.
Cleveland scored four runs in the first inning and Kluber only allowed one in eight innings as the Indians moved their winning streak to double figures with a 5-2 victory over the Tigers.
“We don’t start that well very often, but it is a good way to play, especially when Kluber is pitching,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We didn’t do much after that, but he made them stand up.”
The Indians are on their longest winning streak since taking a franchise-record 14 in a row between June 17 and July 1, 2016.
Cleveland has outscored Detroit 18-4 in the first three games of the series.
The Tigers, who just traded Justin Upton and Justin Verlander, were also missing Miguel Cabrera, Alex Wilson and manager Brad Ausmus. All three were serving the first game of suspensions stemming from an Aug. 24 brawl with the New York Yankees.
Kluber (14-4) gave up one run and eight hits, striking out seven without walking a batter. Alex Presley went 4 for 4 against Kluber for his first four-hit game.
Bryan Shaw allowed two singles in the ninth, and Cody Allen gave up an RBI single to Jose Iglesias before retiring Ian Kinsler for his 23rd save.
“We don’t normally go to Cody with a four-run lead, but once Bryan gave up the two hits, we had to get him hot,” Francona said.
Jordan Zimmermann (8-12) allowed five runs and 12 hits in five innings. He is 1-3 with an 11.03 ERA in his last five starts.
The Tigers never seriously threatened Kluber after the four-run first.
“That was huge, obviously,” Kluber said. “I’m always trying to go out there and pound the strike zone, but that’s even more true when I’ve got a big cushion like that.”
With one out, Bradley Zimmer and Jose Ramirez hit back-to-back triples, and Edwin Encarnacion made it 2-0 with a single through the drawn-in infield. Carlos Santana doubled to right-center, and after Lonnie Chisenhall popped out, Abraham Almonte hit a two-run single up the middle.
“There were really only two hard-hit balls in that inning, and everything else was a grounder or a blooper,” Zimmermann said. “Zimmer’s triple probably should have been caught, but that’s how baseball works.”
The Tigers got runners to third base in the third and fourth innings, but Kluber escaped both times.
Chisenhall and Almonte made it 5-0 with back-to-back doubles in the fifth, but the Tigers got on the board with Bryan Holaday’s RBI single in the seventh.
Holaday is 7 for 14 against Kluber with a homer and three RBIs.
“That’s why I played him,” said Gene Lamont, who managed the Tigers in Ausmus’ absence.
Indians: CF Zimmer left the game in the fourth inning and was being evaluated for a possible head injury sustained while diving for Holaday’s double in the third. “It was precautionary, because he had a little bit of blurry vision, but he wasn’t diagnosed with a concussion,” Francona said. “He’ll be monitored tonight and tomorrow.”
Tigers: DH Victor Martinez (irregular heartbeat) will miss the rest of the season after having a minor surgical procedure to fix the issue. He’s expected to be ready for spring training in 2018.
Two days after being traded, Verlander and Upton were named the Tigers pitcher and hitter of the month for August.
The teams finish the four-game weekend series on Sunday, with Cleveland’s Josh Tomlin (7-9, 5.38) facing Tigers rookie Chad Bell (0-1, 5.48). Bell will be making his first major-league start after spending most of this season pitching long relief. Tomlin will be pitching for the first time since July 30 after a hamstring strain.