Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera are two big reasons the Detroit Tigers have dominated the Cleveland Indians this season.
The veteran pair again looks to lead the visiting Tigers as they try for an eighth consecutive victory over the struggling Indians on Sunday.
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Hunter came within a single of the cycle and had three RBIs while Cabrera hit a two-run homer to help Detroit (48-38) to a 9-4 win Saturday.
The Indians (45-42) held a one-half game AL Central lead over Detroit on Tuesday, but since have dropped four in a row to fall 3 1/2 games back of the Tigers, who have outscored them 16-4 in the first two of this four-game set.
A winner in eight of 10 against the Indians this season, Detroit has outscored Cleveland 49-22 during its seven-game winning streak in the series. The Tigers also have won seven of nine at Progressive Field.
“We’ll show up (Sunday),” Indians manager Terry Francona said. ‘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 (Sunday) and not feel we’re going to win. But we need to play better.”
Detroit has won five straight since losing six of seven.
Hunter, who hit a two-run homer Saturday, is batting .366 with six RBIs against the Indians this year.
Cabrera has homered four times with 12 RBIs in 10 games versus Cleveland in 2013. He’s hit .355 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in his last seven at Progressive Field.
“He’s been the best hitter on the planet for a long time,” Hunter said.
Both named All-Stars on Saturday, Hunter and Cabrera are batting a combined .444 (8 for 18) against Cleveland’s Corey Kluber (6-5, 4.33 ERA).
The right-hander has posted an 8.44 ERA while losing three straight starts to the Tigers, including two this season in which he yielded 11 runs over 11 innings. However, he pitched well in a home start against Detroit on May 21, giving up three runs on two homers in 6 1-3 innings of a 5-1 loss.
Kluber went 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA in three starts June 11-22, but is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in the last two. He gave up a grand slam and three other hits over 5 1-3 innings of a 6-5 win at Kansas City on Tuesday.
The Tigers’ Doug Fister (6-5, 3.80) has also struggled of late, going 0-1 with a 7.16 ERA in his last three starts. For the second time during that stretch, the right-hander allowed six runs, this time in the first two innings of a six-inning effort in a 7-6 win at Toronto on Tuesday.
Fister, 2-1 with a 2.12 ERA in four starts against the Indians in 2012, has yielded two runs and eight hits over 16 innings to win his last two in the series.
Recently named Cleveland All-Star Jason Kipnis is 6 for 17 (.353) with two doubles against Fister. The second baseman had both his 16-game hitting streak and run of reaching base in 36 straight contests end Saturday.
Teammate Mark Reynolds is 0 for 20 with 11 strikeouts in six games, but is 3 for 10 with a homer against Fister.