Civale coasts, Luplow drives in 5 as Cleveland pounds Tigers

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CLEVELAND — Aaron Civale allowed just three hits while dominating Detroit over 7 2/3 innings and was backed by five home runs, including Jordan Luplow‘s three-run shot, as Cleveland pounded the Tigers 11-3 on Saturday night.

Luplow narrowly missed a second three-run homer, settling for a two-run double to finish with a career-high five RBIs.

Civale (2-0), who beat the Tigers in his season debut a week ago, continued a run of strong starting pitching for Cleveland, whose rotation has a 2.60 ERA through seven games. The right-hander gave up two singles and faced the minimum through six innings before Robbie Grossman homered in the seventh.

Civale didn’t issue a walk and struck out six before manager Terry Francona replaced him in the eighth after 90 pitches.

“He pitched really well,” Francona said. “He threw his breaking ball for lead strikes. He elevated his fastball. He threw a good changeup. Kind of like (Zach) Plesac last night, they had to respect three different pitches and three different speeds.”

Jeimer Candelario hit a two-run homer in the ninth for Detroit.

Luplow’s 432-foot shot to straightaway center with two outs in the fourth off rookie Tarik Skubal (0-1) put Cleveland ahead 6-0.

Franmil Reyes hit his third homer in two days, Roberto Perez and Andres Gimenez each added a two-run homer and Cesar Hernandez had a solo shot for Cleveland, who will try to complete a three-game series sweep Sunday.

Cleveland has homered nine times in their past three games. They’re 4-0 when hitting more than one homer, and their 14 homers in the first seven games are the most by a Cleveland team since the 1997 Cleveland team hit 15.

After breaking down his own performance, Civale tipped his cap to Cleveland’s offense.

“One more thing,” Civale said, wrapping up his Zoom session. “Runs are awesome. That was fun.”

Skubal was tagged for three homers in four innings.

“What happened tonight was unacceptable,” said the left-hander, who held Cleveland to two runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings last week. “That’s not who I am. But it’s just learning from it and move forward. I get the ball in another five days and I can prepare very well between now and then.”

Luplow appeared to hit his second three-run homer in the sixth, but the umpires ruled it hit the top of the wall in left and the call of a double was upheld following an unusually long video review.

Luplow crouched at second base almost as if he was praying while the umpires conferred with replay headquarters in New York and fans watched several replays on the giant scoreboard.

Francona didn’t argue with plate umpire Kerwin Danley, but not because he agreed with the ruling.

“I told Kerwin if the game would’ve been closer they might’ve had a first where somebody in New York would’ve had to throw me out,” Francona joked. “I thought it was a home run, too.”

With Detroit starting a left-hander, Luplow got the start in center because he’s a .270 career hitter against lefties. In the fourth, Yu Chang doubled with one out, Perez walked, and one out later, Luplow rocketed his second homer to the deepest part of Progressive Field.

PAIN FREE

Perez battled a shoulder injury all last season. And while it didn’t bother him defensively (he won a Gold Glove), it impacted how he swung the bat.

Perez hit just one homer in 97 at-bats in 2020. He’s already doubled that total, and after losing 25 pounds in the offseason, he feels better than he has in years.

“It’s nice to see him playing freely and it’s fun to watch,” Civale said. “I mean, it’s fun to watch just as a teammate and I’m sure as fans they definitely enjoy that.”

NO-NO HISTORY

With San Diego finally getting its first no-hitter on Friday, Cleveland now has the longest current drought between no-nos in the majors. Cleveland hasn’t had one since Len Barker’s perfect game in 1981.

Of course, Cleveland also owns the longest ongoing World Series drought dating to 1948.

CLASE ACT

Emmanuel Clase has been a revelation for Cleveland after the reliever spent last season on the restricted list due to an 80-game drug suspension.

The team knew the right-hander, who came over in 2019 from Texas in the trade involving two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, had potential. They didn’t expect him to blossom this quickly.

“We didn’t get a chance to get to know him last spring real well,” Francona said. “Then he was gone and he was out in Arizona. This spring, he seems like a different person. He’s really embraced being a part of our team and our organization.

“Boy, he loves to fill up the strike zone. That’s a good thing. His future and present is really bright.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: RHP Julio Teheran will miss multiple starts with a shoulder strain. Teheran was warming up for Friday’s series opener when he felt tightness in his triceps and was shut down. The 30-year-old was a non-roster invitee this spring. Michael Fulmer, the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019, will temporarily take Teheran’s rotation spot.

UP NEXT

Cleveland LHP Logan Allen (0-1) makes his second start in the series finale against Detroit’s Jose Urena (0-1).

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.