- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 5, 2016

CLEVELAND (AP) - Mike Napoli found the perfect way to lift up a weary baseball team.

Napoli hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning and the Cleveland Indians remained perfect in 10 games against the Detroit Tigers this season with a 5-3 victory on Monday night.

The win also ended Cleveland’s two-game skid that followed a franchise-record 14-game winning streak set with a 19-inning victory in Toronto on Friday. The Indians dropped the final two games of the series and saw the start of Monday’s game delayed by rain for 2 hours, 21 minutes.

“We’ve got some guys who are tired and grinding to the All-Star break,” Napoli said. “You get on that run and then lose two and you’re like, oh what’s going on? We understand we have to finish strong so we can get some rest.”

The win came in front of a crowd of 34,163, the Indians’ second sellout of the season and first since opening day. Cleveland has outscored Detroit 65-23 this season and the Indians now lead the Tigers by 6 1/2 games in the AL Central.

Napoli hit an 0-1 pitch from Bruce Rondon (2-1) into the left-field bleachers, helping the Indians to their 12th straight win at home.

“He throws pretty hard,” Napoli said. “I was trying to stay short to the ball and I caught it right.”

“We don’t live by the home run a ton but when he’s up, that’s why he’s here,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We like to get to him and let him take three good swings.”

Jeff Manship (1-1) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings and Cody Allen worked the ninth for his 18th save. The game ended when Jose Iglesias bounced into a double play. Iglesias was called safe at first, but it was reversed after a replay review.

Nick Castellanos and Steven Moya homered for Detroit, which had won six straight.

“The guys battled and fought down to the last out, but we hit into some bad luck,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “And in the end, they beat us.”

Rondon struck out Jason Kipnis to start the seventh, but walked Francisco Lindor before Napoli hit his 17th homer.

Detroit starter Daniel Norris was pulled in the third with a strained right oblique. The Tigers announced he’ll have an MRI on Tuesday.

Danny Salazar allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings and has a 2.36 ERA, the lowest in the AL.

Dustin Molleken made his major league debut when he replaced Norris in the third. Molleken was called up from Triple-A Toledo when right-hander Jordan Zimmermann was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a neck strain.

Friday’s marathon, along with Sunday’s 17-1 loss to the Blue Jays, forced the Indians to make several roster moves to help an overworked bullpen. Joba Chamberlain and Tom Gorzelanny were designated for assignment while Mike Clevinger and T.J. House were recalled from Triple-A Columbus before the game.

COMEBACK TRAIL

Indians OF Michael Brantley, on the DL for the second time after offseason shoulder surgery, will take batting practice Tuesday. He began the season on the DL and played 11 games before being sidelined again May 14. Brantley had a cortisone shot for biceps tendinitis last month.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: Zimmermann, who had been scheduled to start Tuesday, won his first five starts but is 4-4 in 10 starts since.

Indians: 3B Juan Uribe returned to the lineup after being hit on the right hand by a pitch Saturday.

UP NEXT

Tigers: RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-7, 6.71 ERA), who lost his spot in the rotation on May 31, fills in for Zimmermann.

Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco (4-2, 2.56 ERA) struck out a season-high 14 over 7 1/3 innings in his last outing, a 4-1 win at Toronto last Thursday.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide