DETROIT -- Zach Plesac got back on track Friday night during the Indians' 7-4 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Plesac had posted a 6.97 ERA over his past four starts, and he allowed five runs (four earned) over four innings the last time he faced Detroit on Sunday.
However, Plesac (7-4) held the Tigers to two runs over 7 2/3 innings this time, setting down 11 batters in a row early in the game. He struck out a season-high nine and didn’t allow a walk.
Indians acting manager DeMarlo Hale, in his pregame Zoom chat, touched on what Plesac would need to achieve success in this outing. Hale pointed to the big right-hander’s last outing, when he walked three.
“It was evident,” Hale said. “He didn’t have his command. I’m sure he worked on the side to make the adjustment and become the pitcher he can be.”
Plesac did just that before being removed prior to facing Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera with two outs in the eighth. Plesac retired the future Hall of Famer -- who has 499 career homers -- three times in the game, and Cabrera is now 2-for-14 and homerless against him.
“Every time he steps into the box, it’s a dream come true,” Plesac said. “So, whenever he comes in the box, I just continue to focus on executing pitches. It’s all I can control at the end of the day; I’ve just got to execute.
“It’s either an out, or he gets a hit or something happens. But that’s out of my control. ... I made sure to keep my pitches down and execute when I had to.”
Plesac said “it was electric” and he could “feel the ground in the stadium shake” from the crowd reaction, many of them standing, when Cabrera came to bat, making for “a playoff atmosphere” in mid-August.
Hale praised Plesac for getting strikeouts on all four of his pitches. Nothing keeps hitters off-balance more than a pitcher setting them down with variety.
“I have four plus pitches,” Plesac said. “Having those four pitches just opens everything else up. That trust in all four of my pitches, I’m in a good spot now.”
His physical adjustment came in moving three inches closer to the middle of the rubber with his push-off foot.
“I knew my stuff was good enough, and it just came down to me executing pitches,” Plesac said. “I’ve gotten back to the me that I know that I am. ... I found my groove as time’s gone on.”
Plesac credited catcher Austin Hedges for the game he called and the way they worked together.
Cabrera didn’t reach the seats. But Clement, a right-handed hitter, went the other way with a two-out solo homer in the third inning after Detroit starter Tyler Alexander retired the first eight batters he faced.
“I was just trying to get the guys going a little bit,” said Clement, batting ninth, “and I was just trying to turn the lineup over.”
Clement later hit the first pitch leading off the seventh inning over the fence in left-center. He hit just three homers in 1,075 Minor League at-bats, and none in his first 88 at-bats in the Majors.
It was hard to explain his sudden and unexpected power surge, but the smile on Clement’s face explained how good it felt.
"My approach is just to hit the ball hard and try to find a way on base," he said. "I guess I got under those two a bit, and they happened to go out.
“I’ll get right back in the weight room so I can hit a couple more out tomorrow.”
"He’s just trying to establish himself in the big leagues, and he put a couple of good swings on some balls," Hale said. "And I’m sure it felt good to him. Going forward, you don’t want him to get out of his natural swing path. He’d be the first to say, ‘I’m not a home-run hitter.’ But, you know what? He gets a ball in a certain zone and he can generate power.
“So, good for him. I thought Chang swung the bat good, too. It was just a good effort, considering the game we had yesterday [a 17-0 loss to Oakland in Cleveland] and traveling here.”
Chang had an RBI triple in the fourth inning, and belted a 401-foot solo homer in the sixth inning.