DETROIT — Every win feels big for the Cleveland Indians at the moment, so a visit to play the last-place Tigers was an important opportunity.
And the Indians drubbed Detroit again.
Mike Clevinger struck out 10 in eight sparkling innings, and Francisco Lindor homered to lift Cleveland to a 2-0 win over the Tigers on Thursday. The Indians swept the three-game series and are now 15-1 against Detroit this year. Cleveland has won 14 straight against the Tigers.
Cleveland won the series opener 10-1. The next two wins were by two runs each.
“It wasn’t easy. Give them a lot of credit. They used, I don’t know, four pitchers today. They all seemed to get us out,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “The center fielder made a play that potentially is a game changer — but we got a win. That’s what we showed up today for, so, good. Now we can move on.”
The Indians entered the game in the AL’s first wild-card spot and 3½ games behind AL Central-leading Minnesota. Cleveland has won 50 of its last 75 games after starting the season 29-30.
“It’s fun to have all these matter,” Clevinger said. “For a lot of these guys in this clubhouse, it’s the first time these games matter at this point in the year. Usually we’ve had it kind of locked up around this time, since I’ve been up here.”
Clevinger (10-2) allowed four hits and no walks in his longest outing of the season. He was lifted after 115 pitches, and Brad Hand worked a perfect ninth for his 33rd save in 38 chances.
Lindor opened the scoring in the third with a solo homer off Daniel Norris (3-11) and added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Norris has worked limited innings in his starts lately and pitched three Thursday. He did not allow a hit until Lindor’s two-out homer to right in the third.
“I’ve faced him enough that I know his tendencies, and I thought I had him set up for a fastball high and away,” Norris said. “I put it in the right spot, but he’s just a phenomenal hitter. There’s not much you can do about something like that.”
Lindor came up with the bases loaded in the seventh and nearly broke the game open with a drive to right-center, but center fielder Harold Castro made a nice running catch, and Cleveland scored just one run on the play.
Clevinger is 12-1 with a 2.61 ERA for his career in August.
“That’s the goal. You want to get stronger as the season goes,” he said. “That’s what we train for.”
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco is expected to return this weekend. He was diagnosed with leukemia and has been out of major league action since late May. “When he comes back now, it’s to help us win games,” Francona said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t care about his health and his well-being because we do, but we wanted to make sure that he was ready to help us win.” Francona said Carrasco has shown in the past that he can pitch out of the bullpen and is open to that role.
Tigers: DH Miguel Cabrera missed a second straight game. He hasn’t played since leaving Tuesday night’s game with tightness in his left biceps.
Indians: Cleveland begins a three-game series at Tampa Bay. Shane Bieber (12-6, 3.23 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday night for the Indians.
Tigers: Detroit hosts Minnesota for four games. Edwin Jackson (3-7, 8.70) starts for the Tigers against Kyle Gibson (12-6, 4.49).