The way the Detroit Tigers have been hitting, they don’t figure to need anything more than decent pitching to continue their climb up the AL Central standings.
They didn’t even get that their last time out, but still emerged with a victory.
Detroit will look to continue its offensive outburst and win a third straight game at Cleveland when it concludes a four-game set with the Indians on Thursday.
It took the Tigers (55-52) a season-high 22 hits and 13 innings to earn a 14-12 win over the Indians (46-60) on Wednesday, with the game ending less than 12 hours before Thursday’s scheduled start time.
They overcame five Cleveland home runs and a major league record-tying five extra-base hits from Indians catcher Kelly Shoppach to notch their sixth victory in their last seven road games - a game manager Jim Leyland called “one heck of a freak win.”
New Detroit closer Fernando Rodney blew a save in the ninth inning and the Indians had the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the 12th, but Tigers reliever Casey Fossum wriggled out of the jam.
“It was a huge win. It seems we were meant to win this game no matter what,” Fossum said.
The Tigers’ offense seemed just fine without Rodriguez, as they’ve now scored a major league-high 97 runs since the All-Star break, led by slugger Miguel Cabrera.
After a slow start to his Tigers career, the 25-year-old is hitting .400 (20-for-50) with 22 RBIs in his last 11 games. He’s homered in each of his last two games, going 3-for-5 with four RBIs Wednesday.
They’ll hope to inch closer with Justin Verlander (8-10, 4.29 ERA) on the mound Thursday. Verlander had won six straight decisions before lasting a season-low four innings against the White Sox on Saturday, allowing seven runs and nine hits in a 7-6 defeat.
That set a career high in losses for the right-hander, who is 4-7 with a 6.27 ERA in 12 career starts against Cleveland. He beat the Indians earlier this month, however, allowing two hits and two runs in seven innings of a 9-2 victory on July 8.
He’ll face Fausto Carmona (4-3, 4.33), who struggled on Saturday in his first start after two months on the disabled list with a hip injury. The right-hander allowed a career-high nine runs in 2 1-3 innings of an 11-4 loss to Minnesota.
“I think he was geared up,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “He was really rushing out there early on and had trouble gearing down. You know he is going to be better next time.”
His history against the Tigers might help. Carmona has gone 4-1 with a 2.81 ERA in six career starts against Detroit. He beat Verlander after allowing one run in 6 2-3 innings of an 11-1 victory on April 17.
The Indians have lost four of their last five games to sink into last place in the Central. They haven’t dropped three straight at Progressive Field since April, when they did so three times during their sluggish start.
Detroit has won six of its last eight against the Indians.