Miguel Cabrera got a scheduled day off in pursuit of his 500th career home run, and the Cleveland Indians, triggered by Bradley Zimmer’s deciding homerun in the seventh inning, beat the Detroit Tigers 7-5 on Sunday.
Cabrera, who has 498 homers, has not played as part of Detroit manager AJ Hinch’s plan to help his slugger through the season. The Tigers are off Monday and Cabrera will be back in the lineup on Tuesday in Baltimore.
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Derek Hill’s first major-league home run in the second inning helped Detroit take a 5-2 lead, but Cleveland rallied and took Zimmer’s two-run home advantage over Erasmo Ramírez ( 1-1).
Myles Straw hit a single with one out and Zimmer hit a 1-1 pitch to the right seats for his third homer of the season.
Zimmer, who has faced injuries and inconsistencies since a strong rookie season in 2017, increased his batting average by 50 points to 0.247 last month. His improvement at the plate and his defensive work in the outfield led to an increase in playing time.
“It’s been the comfort, the relaxation and the fun there,” Zimmer said. “Every day is a new opportunity, I never take it for granted. I look forward to continuing to contribute.
“He’s got the skills to make an impact on the game, whether it’s an extra hitting potential, he’s got enough pop to go to the yard and his speed plays a role,” said interim manager DeMarlo Hale.
Owen Miller also scored for the Indians, who scored three unearned runs in the fourth thanks to a pitch error from shortstop Zack Short.
Bryan Shaw (5-5) threw a scoreless seventh.
Emmanuel Clase threw the ninth for his second stoppage of the series and the 16th of the season. Akil Baddoo hit a hit in the field with two strikeouts, but Jonathan Schoop came out.
Hill, a rookie center fielder, punched Zach Plesac as Detroit took the lead. Hill’s move to the center-left barely broke over the 19-foot wall and bounced off the pitch. The game was deemed a home run, an appeal confirmed by replay.
“I got halfway between second and third and my third baseman (Ramon Santiago) said it was a home run but I made sure,” said Hill. “I would turn it on if I had to. “
The Tigers added two points in the third over wild terrain from Plesac and the RBI double from Jeimer Candelario.
Plesac was charged with five runs in four innings.
Short’s wild throw in the second on a ground shot from Miller helped Cleveland’s offense in the fourth. Andrés Giménez’s sacrifice fly, Austin Hedges’ RBI single and Ernie Clement’s double tied the score.
Tigers starter Wily Peralta allowed five runs – two earned – in five innings. Detroit was held scoreless after the third and didn’t help each other defensively.
“We didn’t do enough on either side of the ball to take control of the game,” Hinch said. “Once we gave them a few more withdrawals and a few more bases, they took advantage of it.”
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Hinch plans Cabrera’s playing time in advance to keep the slugger sharp and healthy.
“I’m giving Miguel a shot series by series,” Hinch said. “I’m pretty drawn out, especially for him. It is easy to do, trying to lengthen its season. Day games after night games, there are going to be a couple of them (planned days off). He could play all three games in Baltimore. He could win the last game.
Cabrera has scored 50 times against the Indians, his record against any team. He would become the 28th player to hit at least 500 home runs.
Manager Terry Francona is recovering in his Cleveland apartment after hip replacement surgery on Monday.
“He does physiotherapy at home,” said Chris Antonetti, president of Cleveland baseball operations. “At some point, this therapy will be transferred to the baseball stadium. He is fine. He is in a very good mood.
Francona stepped down for the season on July 29.
Tigers: INF Niko Goodrum (sore calf) has completed a minor league rehab mission and is expected to be activated on Tuesday. Short was picked for Triple-A Toledo after Sunday’s game to make room for Goodrum on the roster.
Indians: RHP Shane Bieber (outstretched shoulder) played wrestling at 100 feet on Saturday. He could get rid of the mound later in the week. … RHP Aaron Civale (middle finger sprain) threw a 30-length lifter box on Saturday and is expected to overturn the mound again on Tuesday. … 1B Bobby Bradley (left knee contusion) was out of the lineup for the second day in a row.
Tigers: RHP Casey Mize (6-6) will make his 22nd start of the season Tuesday in the opening game of a three-game series in Baltimore.
Indians: LHP Sam Hentges (1-4) will start against Cincinnati on Monday in what will be a reliever game for Cleveland. The game is a make-up of a May 9 rain.
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