CLEVELAND (AP) — A trip to Progressive Field last month began a downward spiral for the Detroit Tigers.
Their return visit could signal the start of a significant reversal.
Max Scherzer pitched six strong innings, Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in three runs, and the Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 10-4 on Sunday for a three-game sweep.
The Tigers, swept in a three-game series at Cleveland in May, have won four in a row overall and reclaimed first place in the AL Central.
“We’re playing good baseball right now,” Scherzer said. “If we play good baseball and do the little things right, we’re as good as any team in the American League. That’s what we did this series.”
The first trip to Cleveland began a 9-20 tailspin that dropped the Tigers out of first place for the first time this season. Manager Brad Ausmus is pleased his team finally seems to be out of its funk.
“We played well here,” he said. “We’re playing better, obviously, but I’m not going to make any declarations that anything is starting or finishing.”
Scherzer (9-3) bounced back from one of the worst outings of his career. The reigning AL Cy Young winner allowed 10 runs in four innings against Kansas City on Tuesday.
Scherzer gave up one run and six hits, striking out eight. He was struck in the side of the right leg by Lonnie Chisenhall’s line drive in the sixth, but recovered to throw him out and completed the inning.
“That one hurt,” Scherzer said. “He hit it good. My leg is planted into the ground, so it has no give. I wore the whole thing.”
Ausmus and a team trainer checked on Scherzer, who quickly indicated he wanted to remain in the game. Nick Swisher doubled, but David Murphy grounded out and Scherzer pumped his fist as he headed to the dugout.
“His velocity actually went up after that,” Ausmus said.
Cabrera hit his 13th homer in the first, added an RBI single in the third and drove in a run with a grounder in the fifth when Detroit scored seven times.
Josh Tomlin (4-5) allowed eight runs in four-plus innings. He faced six hitters in the fifth and all reached base.
Cabrera, whose RBI double in the 10th inning Saturday gave Detroit a 5-4 win, lined a full-count pitch to right after Tomlin retired the first two batters in the first.
The Tigers took advantage of errors by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and center fielder Michael Bourn in taking a 9-0 lead in the fifth.
“Against any team, if you give them extra opportunities, there’s a decent chance you pay for it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “They just blew it open and we helped them. They don’t need the help.”
Singles by Ian Kinsler and Austin Jackson placed runners at the corners. Cabrera’s grounder scored a run — the call of an apparent force play at second was overturned when a replay review requested by Ausmus showed the shortstop dropped the throw from Jason Kipnis before completing the out on Jackson.
Bourn charged in for Victor Martinez’s line drive but dropped the ball, loading the bases. J.D. Martinez, extending his hitting streak to 12 games, doubled to right before Nick Castellanos doubled to left for a 7-0 lead. Austin Romine added an RBI single off Kyle Crockett.
J.D Martinez is batting .447 with four homers, five doubles and 11 RBIs in his hitting streak. Even though Torii Hunter is expected to return Tuesday in Texas after missing six games with a strained right hamstring, Martinez will remain in the lineup.
“I don’t see how I can take him out unless he tells he doesn’t want to play or can’t play,” Ausmus said.
Michael Brantley drove in three runs for Cleveland with an RBI double in the fifth and a two-run double in the ninth.
NOTES: Cleveland has lost four of five at home since winning 10 straight at Progressive Field. ... Tomlin, who has lost three straight starts, has allowed a team-high 10 homers in 55 1-3 innings. ... The Indians committed three errors, bringing their season total to a major league-high 67. Cabrera leads the team with 14. ... ... Indians RHPs Justin Masterson and Corey Kluber have been taking batting practice and running the bases to get ready for interleague series at Arizona that begins Tuesday. ... Tigers LHP Patrick McCoy, called up from Triple-A Toledo following Saturday’s game, made his major league debut and pitched a scoreless eighth. He replaced LHP Ian Krol, who has a sore shoulder, on the roster. ... Detroit RHP Chad Smith also made his first major league appearance and allowed three runs in the ninth.