The Detroit Tigers were supposed to run away with the American League Central this season.
That certainly hasn't been the case yet and tonight they try to avoid falling even further back in the division when they play the second of three games against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
Cleveland upped its AL Central lead to four games over the third-place Tigers in Tuesday's opener, as Casey Kotchman went 3-for-4 and knocked in the go- ahead run in the sixth inning, helping the Indians to a 5-3 win. Travis Hafner knocked in a pair of runs for Cleveland, which had dropped its final 10 meetings against its division rival last season.
Ubaldo Jimenez (5-3) labored through six innings but still wound up with the victory as he allowed three runs on five hits and six walks. Chris Perez retired Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder with runners on the corners in the ninth to preserve to club's sixth win in eight games.
"We had a lot of good at-bats up-and-down the lineup...and our bullpen was very good again," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Perez, of course, created a bit of a buzz recently with some comments about the attendance at Indians' home games. However, he was cheered on Tuesday.
"I think it has been overall positive," Perez said. "Negative or positive, the town is talking Tribe, which is a good thing this time of year."
Alex Avila provided Detroit's offense with a three-run homer in the second inning, while Rick Porcello (3-4) was tagged for five runs -- four earned -- on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings in defeat.
Tonight, the Tigers will turn to righty Doug Fister, who is 0-2, despite a 1.59 earned run average. Fister had his worst outing of the season on Thursday against Minnesota, as he lost for the second straight time, surrendering four runs (three earned) and nine hits in six innings.
"I control what I can control and I didn't get my job done," Fister said after the game. "That's what's frustrating to me."
Fister has faced the Indians eight times and is 3-2 with a 2.31 ERA.
Cleveland, meanwhile, will counter with righty Zach McAllister, who is 1-1 with a 4.34 ERA. McAllister did not get a decision against the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, as he allowed three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. He also walked five batters after issuing just one free pass through his first 13 innings.
McAllister made one start against Detroit and earned a no-decision last year.
The Tigers were 12-6 against the Tribe last season.