CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) — All-Star Andrés Giménez belted a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning, lifting the AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians to a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers in the opener of a doubleheader Monday.
Giménez connected off Andrew Chafin with two outs, scoring Myles Straw and Amed Rosario to break a 1-all tie. It was his 13th home run of the season and completed a 3-for-4 performance at the plate.
“I just tried to stay focused and get a good pitch to hit,” said Giménez, who is batting .313 and has 54 RBIs. “I recognized the slider soon enough.”
The Guardians are 8-1 since Aug. 6, moving them a season-high nine games over .500. They held Detroit without a hit after the third inning, increasing their division lead to three games over Minnesota, which played later Monday.
James Karinchak (1-0) worked one scoreless inning for the win and Emmanuel Clase pitched a perfect ninth for his 27th save.
“Everybody pitched good and it was a good day to pitch,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “There were some balls hit on both sides that were pretty good, but didn’t leave the ballpark because of the wind.”
Tigers reliever Will Vest (3-3) allowed two runs in one inning, permitting Straw and Rosario to reach base in the seventh.
Detroit has lost eight in a row, 11 of its last 12 and 14 of 16 since July 30. The Tigers, who fired general manager Al Avila last week, are a season-worst 31 games below .500.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the first when Riley Greene led off with a single and scored on a grounder by Harold Castro. All-Star José Ramírez tied it for the Guardians in the fifth with a single that scored Straw for his 94th RBI.
Cleveland right-hander Aaron Civale struck out a season-high 10 batters over six innings in his second start since returning from a sprained right wrist. He allowed one run on three hits, retiring 17 of the final 19 batters he faced.
“If the starters keep the game close, there is no thought about not winning the game,” Civale said. “And it’s been like that for a while.”
Drew Hutchison worked 5 1/3 innings for Detroit, giving up one run and seven hits in his fourth start against Cleveland this season. The right-hander threw 101 pitches, his most since Aug. 29, 2015.
Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera struck out three times and went 0 for 4, keeping his career totals at 3,076 hits, 506 homers and 1,841 RBIs. Detroit’s team has struck out 100 times during its ongoing eight-game skid.
The doubleheader was caused by the postponement of a July 17 game because of rain.
The Guardians have played an MLB-high 10 doubleheaders, their most in a season since 1985. Detroit has the second-most twinbills with eight.
Guardians hitters have the fewest strikeouts in the majors and rank third in stolen bases but are in the bottom half of the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch praised their unusual, but effective offensive makeup.
“Cleveland is an elite contact team with speed, which is what makes them dangerous,” Hinch said. “It’s their one-through-nine presence, as opposed to first-to-third plays. They have more singles than most teams, so you know they’re going to use their speed.”
Tigers: OF Austin Meadows (bilateral Achilles strain) will play back-to-back games for Triple-A Toledo when it resumes play Tuesday. Meadows, who has been on the injured list since June 17, batted .188 in his first four games with the Mud Hens.
Guardians: RHP James Karinchak (restricted list) was activated after being unable to travel to Toronto because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19. The setup man was the only Cleveland player unable to compete against the Blue Jays.
Tigers: RHP Bryan Garcia (0-0, 2.35 ERA) is serving as the 27th man for the doubleheader. Garcia has made two starts for Detroit this season, allowing two runs and eight walks in 7 2/3 innings.
Guardians: RHP Xzavion Curry was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to make his major league debut. Curry went 8-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 19 total games for the Clippers and Double-A Akron.