Tigers stay unbeaten, wreck Indians' opener with 8-4 win
CLEVELAND (AP) Somebody forgot to tell the Tigers they're no longer the team to beat in the AL Central.
Detroit's still on top.
Overlooked in preseason predictions despite winning the division the past four years, the Tigers stayed unbeaten with an 8-4 win over Cleveland on Friday, spoiling the Indians' home opener in their remodeled ballpark.
Alfredo Simon took a shutout into the sixth in his Detroit debut, Nick Castellanos hit a two-run homer and the Tigers got contributions from nearly everyone in their lineup to move to 4-0.
While the Indians, Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox garnered more preseason hype, the Tigers haven't lost a step.
''We don't care about other teams,'' said Victor Martinez, who had three hits and an RBI. ''We have too much to worry about with our team than be worried about others. We have to take care of our own business.''
Simon (1-0) allowed three runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander came over in an offseason trade from Cincinnati and got his first taste of what it's like to pitch for one of baseball's best lineups.
Castellanos homered in the fifth off Zach McAllister (0-1), tagged for a career-high 13 hits - 11 singles as the Tigers bled him slowly as opposed to doing their usual bludgeon job.
''They have a great lineup from top to bottom,'' McAllister said. ''They've got guys who can hit. They've got guys who can run.''
Carlos Santana had two RBIs for Cleveland, which put the tying run on deck in the ninth before Joakim Soria, filling in at closer while Joe Nathan is out, struck out Michael Bourn with two on for his first save.
Miguel Cabrera also had three hits and an RBI for the Tigers, who have outscored their opponents 30-5 to open the season. Ian Kinsler's triple in the seventh was Detroit's fourth in their first four games - a franchise first.
The Indians were excited to show off renovated Progressive Field, which underwent a massive makeover this winter with reconfigured bullpens, a two-story bar and other enhancements.
The Tigers, though, were the ones who looked at home.
Castellanos' homer gave the Tigers a 5-0 lead and chased McAllister. The Tigers were hitting mostly bloops and finding holes before Yoenis Cespedes opened the fifth with a double.
Although they have a lineup loaded with power, the Tigers, who typically mash teams into submission, led 3-0 after four on 11 singles.
''They weren't hit hard, but you've got to give them some credit,'' Indians manager Terry Francona said. ''They have the rare ability to swing hard and not pull off.''
Down 5-0 and with a sellout crowd more than antsy, the Indians strung together five straight hits to close within 5-3 and chase Simon. Al Alburquerque came on and got Yan Gomes to hit into an inning-ending double play to preserve Detroit's lead.
The Indians were back in it briefly before their suspect defense did them in again. Cleveland led the majors in errors last season.
Cespedes singled, tagged on a fly and took third on a wild pitch by Marc Rzepczynski. Jose Iglesias hit an infield RBI single before Anthony Gose hit a tapper toward Rzepczynski, who fielded but threw wildly past first, allowing Iglesias to score and make it 7-3.
''That really hurt,'' Francona said.
With 18 more hits, the Tigers have come out of the gates blazing. Through four games, Detroit is hitting .366.
''We feel pretty good about what we have in the lineup one through nine,'' manager Brad Ausmus said. ''But especially two through six, two through seven, is tough. There's no breaks in there for pitchers.''
Cabrera, hardly known for his speed, stole third in the fourth. He has 38 career steals, five against the Indians.
Tigers: RHP Justin Verlander, on the disabled list with a strained right triceps, threw a side session Friday. The former Cy Young winner is on the DL for the first time in his career.
Indians: 1B/DH Nick Swisher continues his recovery from double knee surgery. He's at the team's training complex in Goodyear, Arizona, where the 34-year-old's at-bats are being videotaped so the Indians can gauge his progress.
Tigers: LHP David Price was brilliant in his season debut, coming within one out of a rare opening-day shutout in a 4-0 win over Minnesota. Price's outing set the tone for Detroit's pitchers, who shut out Minnesota for 24 consecutive innings.
Indians: AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber makes his home debut, one day after turning 29. The right-hander took a tough loss on opening day in Houston, giving up just three hits in 7 1-3 innings.