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Cleveland at Detroit

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Detroit (66-58) «00000220x480

Tigers hit three homers, up division lead vs. Indians

CBSSports.com wire reports

DETROIT -- By July, Alex Avila had gone from an unknown to the American League's starting catcher in the All-Star Game.

What he has done in August has been more impressive.

With Victor Martinez hobbled by a sore knee, Avila has caught Detroit's last 13 games despite manager Jim Leyland's concerns about wearing out the 24-year-old.

Instead, Avila has hit .420 in the stretch with a .531 on-base percentage and four homers. On Friday night, he homered in first-place Detroit's 4-1 victory over second-place Cleveland.

"This has been very impressive, both mentally and physically," Leyland said. "I've never seen a catcher that gets hit by foul tips as often as Alex does, but he keeps going out there every day and doing the job."

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Avila brushed off any praise, saying that the cooler weather has been the most important factor. But his teammates are gushing over his performance in the AL Central pennant race.

"What Alex is doing is amazing," said Max Scherzer, Friday's winning pitcher who went seven innings. "He's irreplaceable right now."

The Indians could have taken over the division lead with a sweep of the three-game series, but Scherzer's pitching and three Detroit homers mean they are 2 ½ games back.

"The way they are playing, the way we are playing and even the way Chicago is playing, I don't think this is going to be decided in the next couple days," Indians starter Josh Tomlin said.

Scherzer (13-7) allowed one run, five hits and a walk while throwing a career-high 127 pitches.

"My arm feels great right now," said Scherzer, who got an extra day of rest after throwing 120 pitches in his last start. "I had all my pitches working tonight, even my slider, which I can't usually throw that much against a left-handed lineup."

Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde finished, with the latter pitching the ninth for his 36th save in as many opportunities. Valverde was coming off Wednesday's loss to the Twins, where he allowed two ninth-inning runs in a tie game.

Tomlin (12-6) gave up four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

"I was happy with the way I threw the ball for five innings," he said. "After that, I needed to make better pitches."

The Tigers didn't get a runner into scoring position in the first five innings, but Ryan Raburn hit a one-out single in the sixth and Austin Jackson followed with his sixth career homer.

Cleveland got a run back in the seventh. Carlos Santana led off the inning with a single, and after Scherzer struck out the next two hitters, Lonnie Chisenhall beat out an infield grounder when first baseman Miguel Cabrera's throw pulled Scherzer off the bag. Santana took third on the play and scored on a wild pitch.

"Tomlin gave us a chance, but we never really got anything going against Scherzer," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "We just couldn't score."

Detroit made it 4-1 in their half of the inning. Avila hit a two-out, 400-foot homer, and Jhonny Peralta hit the next pitch for his 18th homer.

"Their pitcher did a great job, but we finally hit some balls where no one can catch them," Leyland said. "There's no defense against three home runs."


  • The Indians juggled their roster before the game, placing INF Jason Kipnis [hamstrin] on the DL and sending OF Ezequiel Carrera to Triple-A Columbus. To replace them, the Indians recalled OF Shelley Duncan and INF Luis Valbuena from Columbus.
  • The game drew a sellout crowd of 44,222, the biggest since 44,799 attended the home opener against Kansas City.
  • The teams continue the series Saturday night with Detroit's Doug Fister (4-13) making his third start as a Tiger while David Huff (1-1) pitches for Cleveland.
  • The Tigers announced before the game that RHP Al Alburquerque [concussion] will be out for at least another 10 days. Alburquerque was eligible to come off the 7-day concussion DL on Friday.
  • After the game, the Tigers called up INF Brandon Inge from Toledo and sent down OF Andy Dirks. Inge is expected to platoon with Wilson Betemit at third base.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson belts one of three homers on the night to help Detroit increase their AL Central lead. (Getty Images)
Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson belts one of three homers on the night to help Detroit increase their AL Central lead. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game

M. Scherzer
IP 7.0
H 5
ER 1
BB 1
K 6

C. Santana
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 0

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Cleveland Indians
Michael Brantley, LF4010000 .272
Shin-Soo Choo, RF3010111 .247
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS4000011 .288
Travis Hafner, DH4000022 .284
Carlos Santana, C4110000 .239
Kosuke Fukudome, CF4000011 .272
Matt LaPorta, 1B3010011 .242
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B3010001 .234
Luis Valbuena, 2B3000012 .120
2B - Michael Brantley (23, Scherzer)
SB - Shin-Soo Choo (12, 2nd base off Scherzer/Avila)
Team LOB - 5
Outfield Assists - Michael Brantley 1
DP - Brantley-A. Cabrera-LaPorta
Cleveland Indians
Josh Tomlin (L,12-6) 6.2644023 4.03
Rafael Perez 0.1000000 2.19
Frank Herrmann 1200000 4.69
Pitches-Strikes - Josh Tomlin 86-58, Rafael Perez 3-2, Frank Herrmann 22-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Tomlin 5-12, Rafael Perez 1-0, Frank Herrmann 1-2
Batters Faced - Josh Tomlin 25, Rafael Perez 1, Frank Herrmann 5
Detroit Tigers
Austin Jackson, CF4112000 .245
Brennan Boesch, RF4010010 .285
Delmon Young, LF4010000 .270
Miguel Cabrera, 1B4010002 .323
Victor Martinez, DH3000001 .323
Alex Avila, C3111001 .298
Jhonny Peralta, SS3121001 .314
Wilson Betemit, 3B3000010 .285
    Don Kelly, 3B0000000 .231
Ryan Raburn, 2B2110000 .232
    Ramon Santiago, 2B1000000 .244
HR - Austin Jackson (6, Tomlin), Alex Avila (14, Tomlin), Jhonny Peralta (18, Tomlin)
RBI - Austin Jackson 2 (31), Alex Avila (59), Jhonny Peralta (65)
2-OUT RBI - Alex Avila (21), Jhonny Peralta (24)
Team LOB - 3
Detroit Tigers
Max Scherzer (W,13-7) 7511160 4.23
Joaquin Benoit (H,20) 1000010 3.80
Jose Valverde (S,36) 1000000 2.65
WP - Max Scherzer 2 (10)
Pitches-Strikes - Max Scherzer 127-80, Joaquin Benoit 13-7, Jose Valverde 14-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Max Scherzer 8-7, Jose Valverde 1-2
Batters Faced - Max Scherzer 27, Joaquin Benoit 3, Jose Valverde 3
Game Information
Attendance - 44222
Game Time - 2:41
Temperature - 82
Umpires - Home - Joe West, First Base - Tim McClelland, Second Base - Paul Schrieber, Third Base - Chad Fairchild