DETROIT, Michigan -- The Cleveland Indians hit two home runs off Justin Verlander at Comerica Park to defeat the Detroit Tigers, 2-1.
The Indians (7-7) scored in the top of the first inning and rode that success to the finish. Carlos Santana, the leadoff hitter, launched a full count home run to right field off Verlander for a 1-0 edge early in the contest.
Terry Francona, Cleveland's manager, had a hunch that Santana should move up from the cleanup spot to the leadoff spot. The first leadoff home run for the designated hitter proved that Francona made an excellent lineup change. As a matter of fact, Santana hit a double on a 3-1 pitch in the second inning.
"It worked about as well as you can draw it up," Francona said. "But if he had been hitting fourth, he might have done the same thing and there might have been someone on base."
The Tigers (8-7) got a run back on the board as Justin Upton hit his fourth double of the season off Josh Tomlin to score Ian Kinsler and tie the game, 1-1. By getting on-base with a single, Kinsler became the first second baseman for the Tigers since Tony Phillips in 1993 to hit safely in 14 of the first 15 games of a season.
Verlander was on cruise control after giving up the lead-off home run to Santana, but Marlon Byrd gave the Indians a 2-1 edge with a solo shot to right field in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The 33-year-old, Verlander (1-2, 5.79 ERA), gave up two runs on four hits and two walks. The veteran recorded 10 strikeouts on 118 pitches during 7.0 innings.
“To (Carlos) Santana, I put it where I wanted,” Verlander said. “He put a good swing on it. (Marlon) Byrd, was trying to go down and away for Strike 1 and it was up just enough. Unfortunately, two solo homers is all they needed."
Tomlin (2-0, 1.54 ERA) allowed one run and four hits while walking just one batter across 6.2 innings of work. The 31-year-old right-hander threw 85 pitches (56 strikes) before turning the ball over to the bullpen.
"He really commanded," Francona said. "That was fun to watch."
Zach McAllister pitched the final out of the seventh inning, Bryan Shaw tossed a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts and Cody Allen shut the door on the Tigers for his fifth save of the season.
The game between the Tigers and Indians featured the first Dominican-born umpire to be on the field in a Major League Baseball game. Ramon De Jesus was the second base umpire in the event.
The Tigers could get starting catcher James McCann back from the 15-day disabled list sooner than later, as manager Brad Ausmus said. McCann has been on the disabled list since April 12 with a sprained right ankle.
"We'll probably send him on a rehab when he's ready, just to make sure he can catch nine innings with the ankle," Ausmus said. "But he's close. We'll probably have to make a decision probably by the end of the weekend, as far as when he's going to go."
After taking Game 1 of the three game series, the Indians will send Corey Kluber (0-3, 6.16 ERA) to the hill. The Tigers will oppose Kluber with Anibal Sanchez (2-1, 4.60 ERA) at 1:10 PM ET on Saturday.