It was only a matter of time for Corey Kluber before he picked up his first Major League win, but to do it against the Tigers and potentially hurt their playoff chances should make it that much sweeter. Acquired from the San Diego Padres in the three-team Jake Westbrook trade in 2010, Kluber had made nine previous appearances without a victory before leading the Indians to a series-opening victory on Labor Day. The Tribe edged the Tigers 3-2 in Detroit to win just their second road game in their last 19.
The Indians squandered most of their 11 hits on the afternoon, managing just one earned run off of Tigers pitching, but they got the necessary pitching to make their three runs stand up. The Tribe drew first blood when Jason Kipnis scored on a passed ball in the first inning. Kipnis had singled with one out and moved to third on a two-out single from Michael Brantley. The Tigers would answer immediately, though, as Delmon Young singled home a run. Kluber gave up a single, a walk, and hit a batter to load the bases before Young singled. He avoided further damage when Brennan Boesch bounced into a double play to end the inning.
The first of Asdrubal Cabrera's two RBIs on the day put the Tribe back in front 2-1 in the third. Shin-Soo Choo led off the inning with a single and went to third on a throwing error from Tigers catcher Alex Avila, who the Indians ran on at will today, with four stolen bases. Cabrera singled Choo home for his 54th RBI of the season after a lengthy at bat with several foul balls.
The lead didn't last very long because the Tigers scored a run in the fourth and blew yet another golden chance to add on. Kluber allowed three straight hits to begin the inning and Jhonny Peralta singled home Young, who had doubled to lead off the bottom half of the fourth. With runners on first and second, Kluber induced another huge double play off the bat of Avila and retired Omar Infante to end the inning. That double play and the one in the first inning are what propelled Kluber to his first Major League victory.
The scoring ended in the seventh when Cabrera put Kluber in line for the win with a sacrifice fly to deep center. Lou Marson singled and stole second with one out. He moved to third on a Jason Kipnis single that loaded the bases after a Choo walk and then Cabrera drove in Marson. Unfortunately, the Indians left both runners in scoring position when Brantley popped out to end the inning.
Cody Allen, Esmil Rogers, and Vinnie Pestano slammed the door shut with three scoreless relief innings, with Pestano working out of a ninth inning jam. With Chris Perez still unavailable due to the birth of his daughter on Saturday night, Pestano got another save opportunity. He gave up a leadoff double to Delmon Young and then hit Brennan Boesch with one out to put the winning run on base. Peralta conveniently struck out in a big situation like he usually does and Avila grounded out to end the ballgame.
With the win, the Indians improved to 57-78 and the Tigers dropped to 72-62. Corey Kluber was victorious for the first time in his Major League career and Darren Downs was the losing pitcher of record for the Tigers.
Stat of the Night: Indians hitters drew three walks in the game. Shin-Soo Choo had all three of them. It matched his season-high, set on April 18 against Seattle.
Player of the Game: Corey Kluber. Congratulations, kid!
Tomorrow's Game: The series with the Tigers continues when Justin Masterson and Rick Porcello meet tomorrow night at 7:05.