The Indians continued their taming of the Tigers on Friday night, using a pair of run-scoring triples from Jason Kipnis as part of a seven-run barrage against Jordan Zimmermann for a 7-4 win at Comerica Park.
The victory was the seventh for Cleveland in seven meetings with Detroit, including four at Comerica Park. It also extended the Indians' winning streak to seven, while ending a four-game streak for the Tigers.
Zimmermann (9-4) endured his shortest outing of the season, lasting 3 2/3 innings against a nine-hit Cleveland attack. Four of those hits were triples, accounting for five RBIs between Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Chris Gimenez added two hits, two runs scored and an RBI.
"Tonight I was really bad," Zimmermann said.
A strikeout-error and back-to-back singles in the ninth helped Detroit score a run off Cleveland closer Cody Allen and brought up the potential tying run in Miguel Cabrera, who had grounded into two double plays earlier in the night. Rajai Davis, a Tigers outfielder the last two years before signing with Cleveland as a free agent, chased down Cabrera's drive in the deepest part of right-center.
From there, it got interesting. Davis didn't cleanly field it, but kept it in the air as he kept going, corralling it in his glove before he crashed into the out-of-town scoreboard. Ian Kinslerand Cameron Maybin took off from first and second, believing Davis had dropped it. The throw eventually went home, but catcher Gimenez fired to first to double up Maybin and end the rally.
Kinsler's RBI single had helped the Tigers try to claw back in the game with a three-run fifth inning, but Detroit struggled to make Cleveland starter Danny Salazar (9-3) pay for five walks over 5 2/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Triple threat: The Indians scored five runs in the fourth, powered by three triples in the inning. Jose Ramirez, Chisenhall and Kipnis each hit triples in the frame after Kipnis delivered one in the third. It was the first time Cleveland has hit four triples in a single game since Aug. 12, 2001. The last three times the Indians have hit three or more triples in a game have come at Comerica Park (April 7, 2002; June 5, 2012).
Kipnis called Zimmermann a good pitcher, but thought he left too many pitches up in the zone, including both of his triples.
"It was just one of those nights where we were ready for it, and he was just catching too much of the plate with it up in the zone," he said. " It doesn't always happen, but we'll take advantage of it when it does."
Game ends on circus catch: Cabrera stepped into the batter's box as the potential tying run in the ninth, and he hit a drive to right-center field that Davis tracked down, only to have it bounce off his glove and roll up his arm. On a second effort, Davis was able to corral the ball for the out. Kinsler and Maybin began to advance on the basepaths when they saw the first bounce, and Davis threw the ball in, beginning the relay to double off Maybin at first.
Davis said he would have to check out a replay to see exactly what happened, but he first thought the ball was going to go off the wall when it came off Cabrera's bat.
"I thought it was hit really good," he said, "and I got a good jump on it, and I guess it slowed down just enough for me to catch it."
Pelfrey picks up pal: While Zimmermann suffered his quickest hook of the season, teammate Mike Pelfrey did some of his best pitching all year in his first relief appearance since 2011. The big right-hander, whose next start was pushed back after he gave up 12 hits over five innings to the Mariners, allowed three hits over 4 1/3 scoreless innings, retiring the final seven batters he faced, including grounders off the splitter.
"I thought it got a little better as it went on, got a little flatter," Pelfrey said. "Maybe I was overthrowing, with a little adrenaline or something. I thought it got good, and the last inning was probably maybe the best it's been in a while."
Kinsler helps Tigers claw back: Kinsler's fifth-inning single off an 0-2 pitch plated the first of three runs Detroit scored off Salazar. Kinsler's slide into second on Maybin's ensuing grounder helped disrupt shortstop Francisco Lindor's errant throw, allowing Romine to follow James McCann home.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS According to baseball-reference.com, Zimmermann is just the second Major League pitcher since 1983 to give up four triples in a game, joining Texas' Nick Martinez, who did it last year. No Tigers pitcher had allowed four triples in a game since the Philadelphia Athletics roughed up Schoolboy Rowe for four three-baggers on May 20, 1939.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: On Saturday at 4:10 p.m. ET, Carlos Carrasco (3-3, 4.26 ERA) will make his fifth start since coming off the disabled list following a strained hamstring. Carrasco returns to Detroit, the site of the late-April injury. He is 1-3 with a 10.59 ERA in four career starts at Comerica Park.
Tigers:Anibal Sanchez (4-7, 5.97) returns to the Tigers' rotation for the first time in a month, taking the mound Saturday against an Indians lineup that beat him twice in two meetings this season.