DETROIT — Jason Kipnis sprinted around the bases after hitting each of his two homers, forgetting how it felt to trot after hitting the ball well enough to clear the fences.
Kipnis hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer and added a solo shot in the ninth to help the Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 9-3 on Friday night.
He began the game without a home run since April 21.
“I haven’t even done it (in) BP I feel like for two months,” Kipnis said.
After Kipnis’ tiebreaking homer, Asdrubal Cabrera sent the next pitch over the right-field fence to cap a seven-run seventh inning that helped Cleveland come back from a 3-0 deficit in the opener of a four-game series against the AL Central-leading Tigers.
Cleveland has scored 61 runs this season in the seventh inning, producing more than it has in any other inning.
“As long as we score before we have to go home,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Trevor Bauer (4-4) gave up three runs on six hits over six innings.
“He kept us in the game,” Francona said.
Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez (6-4) retired the first seven batters he faced and had a 3-0 lead. He ended up giving up four runs, six hits, walking one and striking out seven in an uneven performance.
“I think he just got tired, actually,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “I don’t know if it was the time off or whatever reason, it just looked to me like he got tired. The ball got up in the zone. He was real crisp up until that point. It was almost like he hit a wall.”
The Tigers won 17 of 23 games going into the All-Star break.
Cleveland has won seven of its last 10 games to move a game over .500, pulling into a second-place tie with Kansas City, trailing the Tigers by 6½ games.
“We’ve had guys struggling in the first half, it’s been a surprise, but I don’t think anybody’s mad about being at .500 in the first half,” Kipnis said.
“And if you have a great second half, I don’t think anybody’s going to be too mad about how we did in the first half, so that’s what we’re concentrating on.”
The Indians chased Sanchez in the seventh when Nick Swisher hit a bases-loaded, two-run single with no outs.
“He gives you some pitches to hit, but not many, and guys did a good job of being patient,” Kipnis said.
Al Alburquerque later entered the inning with two runners in scoring position and was working his way out of the jam with two strikeouts. He had a 1-2 count against Kipnis, whose fourth homer of the season gave Cleveland a 6-3 lead.
Indians reliever Scott Atchison got Austin Jackson to hit into an inning-ending double play in the seventh.
After both starters pitched two perfect innings, the Indians had a hit in the third and the Tigers had two and scored a run in the home half.
Detroit loaded the bases with one out and Bauer got out of the jam, allowing one run on Ian Kinsler’s sacrifice fly and getting Miguel Cabrera to hit an inning-ending fly.
Torii Hunter hit an RBI double in the fourth, stole third and scored on catcher Yan Gomes’ throwing error, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead. They potentially could have scored another run in the inning, but J.D. Martinez was thrown out at home trying to score from first base on Hunter’s double.
The Tigers had designated hitter Victor Martinez in the lineup for the first time since July 4. He had been out with a strained lower right side, an ailment that led to him missing the All-Star game.
- Francona, a week after LeBron James announced he was coming home, was asked if he has bought Cavaliers tickets. “I’m in the process of it. There seems to be a little bit more of a waiting list now,” he said.
- Indians CF Michael Brantley had four hits, matching a career high that he last tied earlier this year against Detroit.
- Cleveland recalled RHP Chen-Chang Lee from Triple A-Columbus, bolstering their bullpen. Lee fills the roster spot created when RHP Zach McAllister was optioned to Columbus, but McAllister is scheduled to pitch in the second game of today’s doubleheader in Detroit against RHP Max Scherzer. Detroit RHP Drew VerHagen is set to make his major league debut Saturday afternoon against Cleveland RHP Corey Kluber.
WHO: Cleveland vs. Detroit
TIME: 1:08 and 7:08 p.m.
WHERE: Comerica Park, Detroit
GAME 1 PITCHERS: Kluber (9-6, 3.01 ERA) vs. VerHagen (MLB debut)
GAME 2 PITCHERS: McAllister (3-5, 5.63) vs. Scherzer (11-3, 3.35)
TV/RADIO: Game 1: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM; Game 2: FS1; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM