Reporting Matt Loede
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – It was a night of emotion at Progressive Field, as closer Chris Perez came out to a standing ovation to start the 9th inning, and he delivered as he got the save in the Indians 5-3 win over the Tigers.
“I was truly humbled, it didn’t go unnoticed,” Perez said after the game.
The closer notched his 14th save of 2012, but it wasn’t without its usual drama. With the Indians up by a pair, the Tigers had runners on first and third with one out, and Perez was able to get Miguel Cabrera to strikeout looking, and then Prince Fielder to ground out to end the game.
The Indians offense rallied off the Tigers, as they trailed 3-1 after two innings, but outscored the Tigers 4-0 the rest of the way.
The offense pounded out 12 hits, with Casey Kotchman getting three hits and a RBI, and Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo each putting up two hits.
Travis Hafner added two RBI for the Indians, and Jose Lopez, now hitting .280, added a RBI double in the 6th that accounted for the Indians 5th and final run.
Ubaldo Jimenez wasn’t pretty, but lasted six innings, allowing three runs on five hits for the Indians to earn his 5th win of the year.
He walked six Tigers, and struck out two. The only Tiger runs came off the bat of catcher Alex Avila, who gave Detroit a 3-1 lead with a homer in the 2nd.
The win puts the Indians up four full games on the Tigers in the AL Central, and with the White Sox losing, the Indians are 3.5 up on Chicago.
Cleveland now stands at 24-18 on the season, while the Tigers drop to 20-22.
The Indians scored off Tigers starter Rick Porcello in the 1st, as Shin-Soo Choo singled to start the game, then was out on a fielder’s choice by Jason Kipnis.
Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to deep center to bring home Kipnis, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead.
It would be short-lived, as Avila gave Detroit a two-run lead back as after Jimenez allowed a one-out double and walk, Aliva crushed a 400-foot homer to center to give the Tigers a 3-1 advantage.
The Tribe chipped away at the lead, with Hafner getting it to 3-2 with a RBI single in the third to bring in Choo who singled and stole second.
Hafner tied it with a sac fly in the fifth, as a sac fly to center brought Choo again around to score to make it a 3-3 contest.
Two more Indians runs came across in the 6th to give them a 5-3 lead. Michael Brantley singled and stole second, and Kotchman with one out singled to center to get Brantley home to give the Tribe a 4-3 lead.
An error allowed Kotchman to get to second, and with Jose Lopez doubled to right, scoring Kotchman.
Tony Sipp and Joe Smith combined to pitch the 7th to hold the lead, and Vinnie Pestano pitched a scoreless 8th, setting the stage for Chris Perez in the 9th.
Wednesday at 7:05pm the series continues with Zach McAllister (1-1, 4.34) going for the Tribe against Doug Fister (0-2, 1.59) for Detroit.