The Cleveland Indians are starting to look like a team of destiny. They can send a real message on Tuesday when they open a brief two- game set with the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field.
Cleveland won its fifth straight game on Monday, as Yan Gomes' game-winning three-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning lifted the Tribe to a 10-8 win and a four-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners.
The Indians, who tallied walk-off wins in the first two games of this set, rallied in the home ninth after Seattle plated a run in the top half of the inning to send the game into extras. After the Mariners pushed another run across to go ahead in the 10th, the Tribe roared back again.
Charlie Furbush (0-3) allowed a leadoff single to Michael Brantley before first baseman Justin Smoak was unable to hang onto Furbush's throw on Drew Stubbs' sacrifice bunt attempt.
The count was full before Gomes belted a fastball just over the wall in left field for his second homer of the game and give Cleveland its fifth straight victory and 18th in its last 22.
"You don't look up very often and see your opponent score three straight innings and you win," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Cleveland could have its hands full with a Detroit team that was picked by almost everyone to repeat as AL Central champions. The Tigers, though, enter this series 2 1/2 games back of the Indians in the division thanks to losses in four of their last five games and eight of their last 12.
Getting the call for the Tigers on Tuesday will be righty Max Scherzer, who is 5-0 with a 3.98 ERA. Scherzer was not sharp his last time out, but did not get a decision against the lowly Houston Astros, despite surrendering five runs in seven innings of a 7-5 loss.
"I was missing just by a couple inches the whole day, and I had a four-batter stretch where I lost command and I didn't execute," said Scherzer. "They did a good of taking advantage of me in that situation with fastballs over the middle of the plate, and obviously when I hung a slider, that's what cost me for a three-run homer.
"But there's other parts of the game when I was executing pitches and I did a lot of other things right. That's what kind of leads to a frustrating outing."
Scherzer also struck out seven batters and is averaging 11.26 strikeouts per nine innings, which is fourth best in the AL. His 9.11 baserunners per nine innings is also the seventh fewest.
He beat the Tribe two starts ago and is 6-4 lifetime against them with a 5.17 ERA in 12 starts.
Cleveland will hand the ball to righty Corey Kluber, who is 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA. Kluber snapped a two-start losing streak on Wednesday in Philadelphia, as he allowed three runs and six hits in six innings to get the win. He also struck out five without walking a batter.
"Obviously, I threw more strikes," said Kluber, who has never faced the Tigers. "I was more aggressive in the strike zone and I didn't fall behind too many guys. I didn't carry the last game into this one at all. It makes your job a lot easier when you get ahead of hitters.
Cleveland took two of three from the Tigers earlier in the year.