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