The Cleveland Indians opened their three-game series at Comerica Park with a strong performance from their oldest starting pitcher.
Now, they hope their youngest can provide a similar effort Saturday as the Indians search for a ninth straight win over the Detroit Tigers, who are looking to snap their longest skid of the season.
Allowing two runs over 7 1-3 innings in Friday night’s 6-5 victory, Carl Pavano earned his first win with Cleveland and only his 10th since 2005. The oft-injured 33-year-old right-hander nearly missed reaching that milestone as relievers allowed three more runs following his exit in the eighth.
While Pavano has struggled through his first three starts, 24-year-old Aaron Laffey (2-0, 2.41 ERA) has been Cleveland’s most reliable pitcher through his first three on a staff that includes reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.
Since his birthday call-up on April 15, the left-handed Laffey has allowed five runs and 15 hits in 18 2-3 innings.
“With all of his starts, he’s given us a great chance to win,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge told the team’s official Web site. “What you ask for is a good chance to win the game, and he’s been giving us an excellent chance to win those ball games.”
In his only career meeting against Detroit on June 7, Laffey allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings in a 8-4 road loss.
To support their young starter, the Indians (9-14) will try to continue their offensive surge. Cleveland has scored 20 runs in its last three games after getting 12 in its previous six.
Five players drove in runs Friday with Jhonny Peralta finishing with two RBIs, two runs scored and two hits, including his first home run of the season. With his 86th career homer, Peralta took sole possession of the club’s record for a shortstop and snapped a 2-for-31 slump.
Cleveland will face another young starter in Detroit right-hander Zach Miner (2-1, 6.00), who has rebounded following a tough outing earlier this season. After giving up eight runs on April 13 to the Chicago White Sox, he pitched a scoreless inning of relief April 21 at Los Angeles and allowed one run over five innings Saturday night in Kansas City.
“I was kind of rushing and overthrowing at times, but I was able to regroup and start making better pitches,” he told the team’s official Web site.
Miner will make his first career start against the Indians as he tries to help the Tigers (11-11) break a three-game losing streak. He is 1-1 with a 5.02 ERA in nine relief appearances versus Cleveland.
Detroit could use a strong performance from Miner as its starters have allowed 11 runs in the last two games, and its staff has given up 25 in the past three.
Miguel Cabrera, who is batting a team-leading .383, hit a three-run homer Friday - his first since April 15. Cabrera has 11 career homers versus Cleveland, his most against an AL opponent.