Brantley, Napoli lead Indians to sweep of Tigers, 9-4
CLEVELAND (AP) Indians manager Terry Francona knew it was only a matter of time until Michael Brantley had a big game.
Brantley, who missed most of April after offseason surgery on his right shoulder, delivered with his bat and glove in Cleveland's 9-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.
''That looked a lot like him,'' Francona said.
Brantley was 4 for 5 with three RBIs, and raised his batting average from .167 to .276. He had an RBI single in the first, a two-run double in the eighth and ended a potential Detroit rally in the sixth with a lunging catch on the warning track.
''Every at-bat tonight seemed like it had something to do with us winning the game and then the defensive play was huge,'' Francona said.
Brantley had four hits in 24 at-bats since being activated April 24. He had surgery for a torn labrum in November after being injured late last season.
''It's going to take some time,'' Brantley said. ''I wasn't expecting to come in guns-a-blazing. You have to work through little bumps in the road and have confidence things will come around.''
Mike Napoli hit a three-run homer and Cleveland beat Detroit for the sixth straight time this season.
Chris Gimenez, playing his first game of the season, hit a solo homer in the fourth and the Indians swept a three-game series from Detroit for the second time this season. The Tigers came into the series with a five-game winning streak.
''I hope our guys are a little ticked right now, and I hope they hold some of that until we play the Indians again,'' Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Trevor Bauer (2-0) allowed three hits in 5 2/3 innings and overcame Nick Castellanos' three-run homer in the fourth.
Cleveland's domination in the series seemingly came from nowhere considering the Indians were 19-37 against the Tigers the last three seasons.
''If you look at the last couple years, our record in the first half of the season against them especially, it feels like every time we play them we get just bludgeoned,'' Bauer said. ''Not just beat, but beat bad.''
Napoli's homer off rookie Michael Fulmer (1-1) capped a four-run first inning. Brantley's single gave Cleveland the lead. Napoli belted a 2-1 pitch into the left-field bleachers for his fifth home run.
Gimenez was acquired from Texas for cash considerations Wednesday after backup catcher Roberto Perez fractured his right thumb.
Castellanos, the AL's leading hitter, hit his fifth home run of the season in the fourth and nearly did more damage in the sixth. Justin Upton's double ended the night for Bauer, who was replaced by Jeff Manship.
Castellanos hit a line drive to left, but Brantley, breaking to his right, ran it down before sliding head-first on the track to end the inning.
''I knew the situation we were in,'' Brantley said. We needed an out right there.''
Castellanos was 2 for 4 and is batting .383.
Fulmer, who won his major league debut last Friday at Minnesota, allowed five runs and 10 hits in five innings.
Cleveland is 6-1 with Carlos Santana batting leadoff, but Francona moved him to the sixth spot Thursday. Davis, who drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the eighth, hit leadoff.
Tigers: C James McCann, activated off the disabled list Tuesday, was given the night off after starting the last two games. McCann had been on the 15-day disabled list since April 12 with a sprained right ankle.
Indians: Perez will undergo surgery Friday after which a timetable will be announced on how long he'll be out.
Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmermann opens a three-game series against Texas at Comerica Park. The AL pitcher of the month went 5-0 with a 0.55 ERA in April.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar starts against the Royals in the opener of a three-game home set. Four of his first five outings this year have been on the road.