DETROIT (AP) — Terry Francona let Aaron Civale work through a sixth-inning jam, then marveled at how the rookie right-hander handled it.
“His heartbeat isn’t going any faster, the game’s not going too fast,” the Cleveland manager said. “We just want to kind of stay out of the way. Let him do his job.”
Civale pitched seven solid innings in his longest start so far in his debut season, and the Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers yet again, 4-2 on Wednesday night. Jason Kipnis homered twice for Cleveland, and Francisco Lindor also went deep.
Cleveland is now 14-1 against the last-place Tigers this year, and that’s a big reason the Indians are firmly in the postseason hunt. They began the day 3 ½ games behind AL Central-leading Minnesota.
Civale (2-3) allowed two runs and six hits, striking out five with no walks. With the Indians up 2-1 in the sixth, Detroit put men on second and third with nobody out. The Tigers scored a run that inning, but that was it. Civale limited the damage.
“You don’t see too many barrels on him,” Kipnis said. “For such a young age and not many starts under his belt, he has a lot of composure. He doesn’t really get too rattled.”
Nick Goody worked the eighth inning for Cleveland, and Brad Hand finished for his 32nd save in 37 chances.
Detroit starter Jordan Zimmermann allowed two runs in six innings, but Buck Farmer (5-5) allowed Lindor’s one-out solo shot in the eighth, which bounced of the top of the wall and over in center field. That gave the Indians a 3-2 lead.
Kipnis, who opened the scoring with a solo shot in the second, added another in the ninth. It was his third multihomer game of the year and the seventh of his career.
Lindor finished a triple shy of the cycle.
Dawel Lugo homered for Detroit in the fifth, tying the game at 1. Both teams scored a run in the sixth. Carlos Santana hit an RBI single, and Willi Castro answered with a sacrifice fly.
Zimmermann made it through six innings for just the second time in his last nine starts, allowing five hits and no walks.
“I started throwing a sinker about a month ago, and it has really been good for me,” Zimmermann said. “I think I probably threw more of those than I did four-seamers today. With the sinker and the slider, I’ve got two pitches I can really trust in every situation.”
Kipnis still got the better of him in the second. The Cleveland infielder is now 9 for 16 off Zimmermann in his career.
“He’s a good pitcher — just someone I guess I see well,” Kipnis said. “Or I always, kind of feeling good every time he’s on the bump. So it kind of just lines up that way.”
Cleveland has won 13 straight over the Tigers, matching its longest winning streak against Detroit. The Indians also had a 13-game streak against the Tigers from 1996-1997.
“We don’t think about that — we just play the next game — but that’s a really good team that’s fighting for a playoff spot and we’re just struggling to survive,” Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Indians: Francona said he’s hopeful RHP Carlos Carrasco can return from the 60-day injured list Sunday. The 32-year-old Carrasco was diagnosed with leukemia and has been out of major league action since late May.
Tigers: DH Miguel Cabrera had the night off after leaving Tuesday night’s game with tightness in his left biceps.
Indians: Cleveland tries for a three-game sweep Thursday with Zach Plesac (7-4) on the mound.
Tigers: Detroit starts Daniel Norris (3-10).