On Saturday at Progressive Field, Tribe starter Carlos Carrasco surrendered seven runs (six earned) to Detroit in less than four innings. Nick Swisher and Ryan Raburn went deep, but the Indians still couldn't match the opposition's pace. Cleveland lost its fourth game in a row, 9-4.
The Indians have won just two of their 10 meetings against Detroit this season. They trail the Tigers by 3 1/2 games in the division.
"We're definitely not intimidated by them. We've just come out flat the last two days," said Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis, who, along with starter Justin Masterson, was named to the AL All-Star team on Saturday. "We're just thinking, 'The pressure's not really on us. It's got to be on them.' That's the way we need to approach it.
"They're the guys who made it to the World Series last year. They're the guys with the big names, the big contracts and all that stuff."
Detroit's marquee players demonstrated their value on Saturday. With a man on second in the third inning, Miguel Cabrera slammed a poorly placed slider from Carrasco into the left-field bleachers, and Prince Fielder followed with a high homer to right.
"A real bad pitch to Cabrera," Indians manager Terry Francona said afterward. "[Carrasco] threw a breaking ball just right down the middle, and he does with it what he usually does with a mistake. Fielder followed it up with a ball that he got to."
The inning wasn't over until former Indian Jhonny Peralta singled in former Indian Victor Martinez, who doubled.
The Tigers scored three more runs in the following frame. After a pair of singles, Ramon Santiago laid down a sacrifice bunt. Carrasco fielded it and threw it to third base, but the ball went past Lonnie Chisenhall. The pitcher's error allowed Andy Dirks to score, and a sacrifice fly by Austin Jackson and a double from Torii Hunter brought in two more.
"They're giving us an out with a bunt," Francona said. "Lonnie had kind of gotten himself too far in, where he couldn't get back to the bag, and Carlos still tried to make the play. And then things spiraled from there."
Carrasco exited after intentionally walking Cabrera, who followed Hunter. Over just 3 1/3 innings, he gave up 10 hits. Carrasco (0-4) also struck out two.
"When things started happening, he started going to his breaking ball a lot," Francona said, "instead of continuing to pound his fastball in."
"I missed a couple spots with my fastball, and slider and changeup," Carrasco said.
The Tigers added two additional runs in the sixth inning, which saw a towering, two-run homer from Hunter off Matt Albers. Hunter also tripled in the first, ultimately falling a single short of the cycle. He was robbed of a likely single in the third inning by nice catch from Michael Bourn.
After the game, Hunter offered some remarks that might comfort troubled Tribe fans.
"Every time I play the Indians, they seem like they're a scary team," he said. "I'm not comfortable playing those guys. Late innings, they actually get a lot done."
Raburn's two-run homer came in the ninth inning, but it was too little, too late. Three stanzas earlier, Swisher belted a solo shot to left-center off Tigers reliever Phil Coke.
Coke came in after five solid innings by Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez, who had just returned from the disabled list. The Detroit righty held Cleveland to a run and three hits while striking out four and walking one.
The only run Sanchez (7-5) allowed came in the third, when Chisnenhall, Drew Stubbs and Bourn each singled. Bourn's infield hit brought Chisenhall in from third, but the Indians wound up stranding two runners in scoring position.
Though the Indians have been outscored by Detroit, 16-4, in dropping the two games of this four-game series, they can still force a split by winning on Sunday and Monday.
"We'll show up tomorrow," Francona said. "We certainly need to do better against them. They're the team that's directly ahead of us, and they've kind of had their way with us. But, I don't think we'll show up tomorrow and not feel like we're going to win."