"I'm not too worried about using that word any time," Francona said after another win. "I do know I've sat in this chair a lot of nights, been kind of grumpy, and trying to figure out on that bus how we're going to pull it together. So it's nice to come here and play well, but I would never use a word like that."
Justin Verlander was banged around for one of the worst starts of his career, allowing eight earned runs over 4 2/3 innings, including four Indians home runs in the fifth inning. It was the first time in Tigers history a pitcher allowed four homers in one inning, according to STATS, LLC.
"I started out all right, and in that one inning, I fell apart," Verlander said. "It sucks, because I've worked my tail off the last couple months to get back to where I want to be, and to have one start kind of blow up in your face sucks."
Lonnie Chisenhall finished a double shy of the cycle with a 4-for-4 day, and starter Josh Tomlin continued his strong season for the Tribe, allowing three runs over eight innings and moving to 9-1 on the season.
After he got a big lead to work with in the fifth, Tomlin said he was just trying to get outs and get back to the dugout as quickly as possible.
"Go out there and throw strikes, and try to make them have to string together a bunch of hits to come back and beat us," Tomlin said. "I don't want to go back out there and give the lead back up, or let them get a rally going and next thing you know they kind of feel comfortable about themselves, and maybe one swing of the bat can change the game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bombs away:Juan Uribe and Tyler Naquin hit back-to-back solo-shots to lead off the inning vs. Verlander. Mike Napoli and Chisenhall each hit two-out, two-run homers in the frame. The Indians have scored 60 runs and collected 41 extra-base hits during their nine-game winning streak.
Francona thought Verlander's arm motion during warmups and in the first four innings was good, and could have spelled trouble for the Indians, but they were able to get to him for a big fifth.
"He was free and easy, and then he left some balls up that inning, which was kind of uncharacteristic, and we took advantage of it," Francona said.
Tigers finally grab lead: Outfielder Mike Aviles hit a solo home run to open the scoring in the bottom of the third. It was the Tigers' first lead in the nine games against the Indians this year. But that lead only lasted a half-inning, and it would be the Tigers' only lead of the day.
"They own us so far," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, "but there's still a lot of time to go."
Tomlin escapes trouble:Victor Martinez tied the game at 2 with a solo home run in the fourth inning, and the Tigers put two more runners on base, threatening to take the lead. Tomlin got Aviles to fly out to center field with two outs.
"I was just trying to stay within myself and not try to do too much," Tomlin said. "I know Mikey, I've played with Mikey before, so I know I kind of know he's aggressive, so I was trying to make him aggressive outside of the zone. He put a good swing on it, luckily it just kind of got up in the zone a little bit to where he just flied out to center field."
Martinez belts a pair: One bright spot for the Tigers was Martinez, who hit two home runs. His fourth-inning solo shot was followed by a sixth-inning leadoff homer to left field. It was Martinez's ninth multi-homer game of his career and his second this season.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Sunday was the second time in Verlander's career he allowed four home runs in a start, the other coming on Sept. 18, 2007, against the Indians in Cleveland.
QUOTABLE "If I did, it'd be between me and the team."-- Ausmus, when asked if he needed to say something to his team after the sweep.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: The Indians head south for the second leg of a 10-game road trip, a three-game series in Atlanta. Trevor Bauer looks to build off a shutout of the Rays in his last outing. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET on Monday.
Tigers:The Tigers get Monday off before welcoming the Marlins for a two-game set, beginning Tuesday. Mike Pelfrey will take the mound coming off a strong relief appearance last Friday, in which he allowed three hits over 4 1/3 shutout innings. First pitch is 7:10 p.m. ET.