Series: Game 1 of 3

Detroit leads 1-0 (as of 8/19)

Game 1: Friday, August 19
Game 2: Saturday, August 20
Game 3: Sunday, August 21

Indians 1

(62-59, 29-34 away)

Tigers 4

(66-58, 35-27 home)

    7:05 PM ET, August 19, 2011

    Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan 

    123456789 R H E
    CLE 000000100 1 5 0
    DET 00000220 - 4 8 0

    W: M. Scherzer (13-7)

    L: J. Tomlin (12-6)

    S: J. Valverde (36)

    Three homers power Max Scherzer, Tigers past Indians

    Associated Press

    DETROIT -- By July, Alex Avila had gone from an unknown to the American League's starting catcher in the All-Star Game.

    What he has done in August has been more impressive.

    With Victor Martinez hobbled by a sore knee, Avila has caught the Detroit Tigers' last 13 games despite manager Jim Leyland's concerns about wearing out the 24-year-old.

    Instead, Avila has hit .420 in the stretch with a .531 on-base percentage and four homers. On Friday night, he homered in first-place Detroit's 4-1 victory over the second-place Cleveland Indians.

    "This has been very impressive, both mentally and physically," Leyland said. "I've never seen a catcher that gets hit by foul tips as often as Alex does, but he keeps going out there every day and doing the job."

    Avila brushed off any praise, saying that the cooler weather has been the most important factor. But his teammates are gushing over his performance in the AL Central pennant race.

    "What Alex is doing is amazing," said Max Scherzer, Friday's winning pitcher who went seven innings. "He's irreplaceable right now."

    The Indians could have taken over the division lead with a sweep of the three-game series, but Scherzer's pitching and three Detroit homers mean they are 2½ games back.

    "The way they are playing, the way we are playing and even the way Chicago is playing, I don't think this is going to be decided in the next couple days," Indians starter Josh Tomlin said.

    Scherzer (13-7) allowed one run, five hits and a walk while throwing a career-high 127 pitches.

    "My arm feels great right now," said Scherzer, who got an extra day of rest after throwing 120 pitches in his last start. "I had all my pitches working tonight, even my slider, which I can't usually throw that much against a left-handed lineup."

    Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde finished, with the latter pitching the ninth for his 36th save in as many opportunities. Valverde was coming off Wednesday's loss to the Twins, where he allowed two ninth-inning runs in a tie game.

    Tomlin (12-6) gave up four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings.

    "I was happy with the way I threw the ball for five innings," he said. "After that, I needed to make better pitches."

    The Tigers didn't get a runner into scoring position in the first five innings, but Ryan Raburn hit a one-out single in the sixth and Austin Jackson followed with his sixth career homer.

    Cleveland got a run back in the seventh. Carlos Santana led off the inning with a single, and after Scherzer struck out the next two hitters, Lonnie Chisenhall beat out an infield grounder when first baseman Miguel Cabrera's throw pulled Scherzer off the bag. Santana took third on the play and scored on a wild pitch.

    "Tomlin gave us a chance, but we never really got anything going against Scherzer," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "We just couldn't score."

    Detroit made it 4-1 in their half of the inning. Avila hit a two-out, 400-foot homer, and Jhonny Peralta hit the next pitch for his 18th homer.

    "Their pitcher did a great job, but we finally hit some balls where no one can catch them," Leyland said. "There's no defense against three home runs."

    Game notes

    The Indians juggled their roster before the game, placing infielder Jason Kipnis (hamstring) on the DL and sending outfielder Ezequiel Carrera to Triple-A Columbus. To replace them, the Indians recalled outfielder Shelley Duncan and infielder Luis Valbuena from Columbus. ... The game drew a sellout crowd of 44,222, the biggest since 44,799 attended the home opener against the Kansas City Royals. ... The teams continue the series Saturday night with Detroit's Doug Fister (4-13) making his third start as a Tiger while David Huff (1-1) pitches for Cleveland. ... The Tigers announced before the game that right-hander Al Alburquerque (concussion) will be out for at least another 10 days. Alburquerque was eligible to come off the seven-day concussion DL on Friday. ... After the game, the Tigers called up infielder Brandon Inge from Toledo and sent down outfielder Andy Dirks. Inge is expected to platoon with Wilson Betemit at third base.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Game Information

    StadiumComerica Park, Detroit, MI
    Attendance44,222 (107.2% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time2:41
    Weather82 degrees, clear
    Wind5 mph
    UmpiresHome Plate - Joe West, First Base - Tim Mcclelland, Second Base - Paul Schrieber, Third Base - Chad Fairchild

    Research Notes

    From Elias: Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin extended his streak of consecutive starts with at least 5 innings pitched to 37 on Friday. It's tied for the second-longest such streak to start a career since 1900. Tomlin is currently tied with George Winter, whose streak ran from 1901-02. Oscar Jones has the longest such streak, with 51 starts of at least 5 IP from 1903-04.

    ESPN Stats & Information