“It was all about Fausto shutting them down and giving us a chance to get a lead,” said Garko.
The Indians had lost six of seven, and their previous three. The bullpen squandered strong starts from Jake Westbrook and Paul Byrd against Boston, then ace C.C. Sabathia gave up nine runs to Detroit the night before.
Manager Eric Wedge, frustrated with his team’s play, held a meeting with the players before the game. For one night at least, the meeting paid off.
“Our approach at the plate was better,” Wedge said. “We had good at-bats. Individually, they should feed off that.”
Carmona (2-1), who walked eight in 3 1-3 innings in his last start against Oakland, gave up seven hits, struck out two and walked one.
“When you run into guys like that, you need to have good pitching, and we didn’t have that,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Carmona said he made an adjustment that paid off.
“I learn something from every start, whether it’s good or bad,” said Carmona, through interpreter Luis Rivera, the team’s first base coach. “I had to make adjustments from my last start. My arm was getting out in front of my body and I worked hard in the bullpen to adjust.”
Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander remained winless in four starts, falling to 0-3. He allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings, with four walks and one strikeout. The loss snapped the Tigers’ season-high three-game winning streak.
“I’ve been throwing the ball decent, but things haven’t been going my way,” he said. “Tonight was the first night I felt I didn’t throw the ball well.”
Verlander has struggled in Cleveland’s ballpark, which was renamed from Jacobs Field to Progressive Field in the offseason. He’s 1-5 with an 8.91 ERA in seven starts.
“He’s got great stuff,” said Garko, whose fifth-inning homer came off Verlander. “It seems like we face him four or five times a year. He’s really a good pitcher.”
Hafner and Jamey Carroll also had two RBIs apiece. Every Cleveland starter had at least one hit.
“Hitting can be a strange thing,” Garko said. “You can be completely lost and if you have a few good at-bats, you can find it again.”
The game featured five hit batters—two by Verlander, two in a row by Carmona and one by Tigers reliever Bobby Seay.
After Verlander hit Garko in the second and Michaels in the fifth, Carmona opened the sixth by hitting Ramon Santiago on the foot. On the next pitch he hit Sheffield in the hip. Plate umpire Jim Wolf warned both sides, although Seay wasn’t ejected after hitting Grady Sizemore in the seventh.
“I threw a slider to the first guy and I went low and in to Sheffield and it just hit him,” Carmona said.
The Indians scored three times in the second on Michaels’ sacrifice fly, Casey Blake’s double and Carroll’s infield hit.
Garko’s homered with one out in the fifth. The Indians broke it open with a five-run sixth off Zach Miner, who gave up the cycle in the space of five batters in the inning. Sizemore led off with a double and scored on Carroll’s triple. Hafner followed with his home run. Jhonny Peralta singled with one out. Michaels then drove in two with a single.
Miguel Cabrera’s sacrifice fly drove in Detroit’s only run in the sixth.
CF Curtis Granderson (broken bone in right hand) will start a rehab assignment at Class A West Michigan Friday. He will also play games at Triple A-Toledo. Leyland doesn’t expect Granderson to rejoin the Tigers until after they complete a weekend series in Toronto. … LHP Dontrelle Willis (hyperextended right knee) threw off flat ground Wednesday. … 2B Asdrubal Cabrera, hitless in his last 15 at-bats and in a 4-for-34 skid, didn’t play. … Michaels entered the game in a 3-for-24 slump.