The Indians continued their winning ways on a beautiful Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field as they defeated the Detroit Tigers 2-1 and completed a three-game sweep of their division rivals. The Tribe managed to get two runs during yet another dominant performance from the best pitcher in the game, Justin Verlander.
The first run came during the Tribe's first at-bat of the day, as Shin-Soo Choo absolutely hammered an inside pitch from Verlander into the right field mezzanine. It was bomb that was estimated at 454 feet. The Indians then manufactured the second and decisive run of the game in the bottom of the fourth, just one inning after the Tigers had tied it up. After both Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera struck out to start the inning, Michael Brantley got on with a single to right. The speedy centerfielder promptly stole second to get into scoring position and Jose Lopez came through to knock him in for the 2-1 lead. Lopez, who's had some bright moments while Jack Hannahan deals with injury, took a Verlander pitch to right-center to bring in the winning run.
With Verlander on the mound, Justin Masterson knew he would have to limit the Tigers offense if the Tribe wanted to complete the sweep. He did not have his sharpest stuff, but he managed to get out of a couple crucial jams when he needed an out. The Tribe ace danced around five walks and allowed just one run in seven innings, setting things up for the one-two punch of Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez.
Pestano came on in the top of the 8th and worked through a 1-2-3 inning, inducing a couple lazy flyouts to preserve the lead. He did not get a strikeout, however, which ended his remarkable streak of 23 straight games with a K. That's obviously no big loss, and he looked strong again in relief. Pestano and Perez sandwiched what was one of the more impressive innings of pitching you will ever see, as a visibly irritated Verlander completely blew away the Tribe hitters in the bottom of the 8th. Verlander struck out the side, and was hitting 102 mph on the gun as he continued to just pump one fastball after another past the top of the order.
While it wasn't as showy as Verlander's half inning, Perez came on and cleaned up in the 9th for his third straight save of the series. It was a good week for Perez and Tribe fans after the tumultuous weekend, and the Indians have now won seven of their past nine games. They're four games ahead of the White Sox in the standings, and now six clear of the Tigers.