CLEVELAND -- The look from Ian Kinsler, when he was asked Wednesday morning whether he was worried about support for the American League Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote, was classic Kinsler.
"I'm honestly worried about beating Cleveland today," he said before Detroit's 12-2 win Wednesday afternoon at Progressive Field.
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Considering the Tigers had gone 11 tries without beating the Indians, it was hard to blame him. It was also the kind of focus that put him into All-Star consideration in the first place.
As Kinsler sat in front of his locker following the win, it was a little easier for him to look at the vote. His performance led to a voting push that had him swapping the third and fourth positions multiple times with Boston's Dustin Pedroia, who settled in ahead at the time of Thursday afternoon's update.
Toronto's Michael Saunders leads the AL field, with Houston's George Springer in second place. Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria is in fifth.
The sense around the clubhouse after Wednesday's win -- not just Kinsler, but everybody -- was a combination of relaxation and relief. Even if they believed victory would happen sooner or later, they're glad it finally happened.
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"The sooner, the better in my eyes," manager Brad Ausmus said. "I would rather it happened in Game 1. There's definitely a little bit of weight off the shoulders, just to beat the Indians after 11 straight losses. And now I think we can move on from that."
Kinsler, who had three hits and three runs scored, certainly did his part.
"When Kins and I get on base, it's amazing how this offense can roll," Cameron Maybin said.
The Tigers scored all their runs in three innings, tallying a three-run fourth, a five-run fifth and a four-run seventh. Kinsler was the first baserunner in all three innings. His leadoff single in the fourth was the first damage of any kind against Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin, who went through the lineup unscathed over the first three innings with two strikeouts and one ball hit out of the infield.
Detroit had a 2-0 deficit and another series sweep to Cleveland clearly in sight as Kinsler stepped to the plate and hit Tomlin's first pitch of the fourth through the right side. As Maybin's loft down the left-field line hit the foul pole five pitches later, tying the game, the Tigers felt like momentum was finally swinging their way.
"That was a huge hit for us, to tie the game up right there," Kinsler said. "We've kind of been trailing these guys a bunch. We haven't really had too many leads, so when we tied it up early, we felt like we could take a little bit of a deep breath and start over."
An inning later, with the Tigers holding just their second lead over the Indians this season, Kinsler's two-out infield single began their opportunity to add on. Kinsler and Maybin flew around the bases on Miguel Cabrera's single off the right-field wall to give Detroit a 5-2 lead. Cabrera and Victor Martinez then strolled home on Nick Castellanos' three-run homer.
"I just think we're tired of losing against these guys, to be honest with you," Maybin said. "It seemed like the energy was right where it needed to be, the focus. I think a little pride set in."
Once Castellanos doubled in two more runs in the seventh -- including Kinsler, whose third single led off the inning -- the Tigers had their dagger to kill the streak, even if they didn't see it that way.
"With Cleveland, there's been no dagger," Castellanos said. "The dagger was on that ninth-inning double play. That was the dagger, to end the game. Because with these guys, how many games did they beat us in a row? Eleven. So the dagger was when we won."
Fans can vote for the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote until 4 p.m. ET on Friday. The winners, as chosen exclusively by online fan voting totals, will be announced during a Final Vote-themed telecast of "MLB Now" featuring commentary from political analyst Jeff Greenfield, live on MLB Network and MLB.com from 4-5 p.m. ET. MLB Network will provide extensive coverage across all of its studio programming during the Final Vote, including interviews with the candidates, frequent updates, heat maps indicating the cities where votes are being cast for each candidate, news on player and club campaigns and a running countdown clock leading up to the announcement.
Baseball fans have cast nearly 600 million online votes for Final Vote candidates since the program's inception in 2002. In addition to MLB.com and the official club websites, fans can use their mobile devices to cast votes at MLB.com/vote or via text message. To receive the ballot, text the word "VOTE" to 89269. To vote for a specific player, fans can text their choice to 89269. EXAMPLE: Text "A3" to vote for AL Player 3 or "N3" to vote for NL Player 3. Message and data rates may apply. Text "STOP" to end and "HELP" for information. Mobile voting in Canada also is available and fans should text their choices to 101010.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Final Vote will include social balloting, as Twitter support for the 10 candidates over the last six hours of balloting will count toward their vote totals. From 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET on Friday, any tweet that includes a designated player hashtag will be tabulated as part of the official vote total used to determine the winners.
On Tuesday, July 12, watch the 2016 All-Star Game presented by MasterCard live on FOX, and during the game visit MLB.com to submit your choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet via the 2016 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote. The 87th All-Star Game, in San Diego, will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.