Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley hit back-to-back home runs to ignite a six-run first-inning outburst, and the Cleveland Indians clinched the American League Central Division for the third consecutive season by overwhelming the visiting Detroit Tigers 15-0 on Saturday.
Every player in the Indians’ starting lineup knocked in at least one run. Jose Ramirez and Yonder Alonso each had three hits, three runs scored and two RBIs. Edwin Encarnacion supplied two hits, three runs scored and two RBIs while Brantley contributed two hits and three runs scored.
Mike Clevinger (12-8) held the Tigers to one hit in six innings and struck out five for Cleveland (83-65).
Detroit starter Michael Fulmer (3-12) gave up the back-to-back homers, then was taken out of the game due to right knee inflammation. He was replaced by Matt Hall, who allowed nine runs (six earned) in one inning in his major league debut.
The Tigers (60-88) have lost five of their last six.
Lindor turned on an inside pitch and drilled his 35th long ball this season and eighth career leadoff homer over the right field wall. Brantley then pulled a changeup over the fence to give the Indians a swift 2-0 lead. Fulmer was immediately removed after that pitch.
Hall didn’t get much help from his defense as the Indians pushed across four more runs in the inning. First baseman Jim Adduci’s fielding error allowed Ramirez to score from second. The Tigers made another error before Yandy Diaz’s RBI grounder. Jason Kipnis’ sacrifice fly and Roberto Perez’s bloop RBI single made it 6-0.
The barrage continued in the second as the Indians piled on five more runs for an 11-0 lead. Ramirez smacked an RBI double to bring in the first of those runs.
Encarnacion followed with an RBI single. Melky Cabrera also had a run-scoring single, and Kipnis was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Perez’s sacrifice fly brought home Cabrera.
Alonso’s two-run homer off Sandy Baez gave Cleveland a 13-run lead in the third. A Ramirez triple and Encarnacion single capped the scoring during Cleveland’s two-run fourth.
—Field Level Media