CLEVELAND -- The Tigers came to Progressive Field on Friday and issued a reminder as to which American League Central club continues to hold the keys to the division. Miguel Cabrera collected three hits, Nick Castellanos launched a two-run home run and Detroit spoiled the Indians' home opener with an 8-4 victory in front of a sold-out crowd.
Alfredo Simon, who was making his Detroit debut after coming over from the Reds in an offseason trade, gave up three runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings to earn the win. He continued the Tigers' streak of stingy pitching by holding the Indians scoreless through the first five frames. That stretched Detroit's season-opening streak to 32 innings without an earned run allowed, tying the modern Major League mark set by the 1963 Cardinals.
"It doesn't happen often," manager Brad Ausmus said. "It rarely happens at the beginning of the season. That's why it's more noticeable."
The Tigers used an early offensive onslaught to jump out to a 5-0 lead against right-hander Zach McAllister, which proved too much for the Indians to overcome. McAllister, who earned a spot in the rotation with a strong showing during the spring, was chased from the contest after four-plus underwhelming innings.
"The first home game, you're always going to be fired up," Indians outfielder David Murphy said. "And playing a division rival -- anybody in your division -- you know how important those games are from the very beginning. We were ready to go. The result wasn't what we wanted."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Singles party: For the first four innings, the Tigers nicked McAllister up with a stream of singles. During that span, McAllister allowed 11 singles and no extra-base hits. Cabrera had three of them (one driving in a run) against the big right-hander. Anthony Gose and Victor Martinez also had run-scoring singles off McAllister.
Shifting positions, same results: Ausmus said before the game that he would exercise defensive shifts cautiously against Cleveland's left-handed hitters, wary of their potential to lay down a bunt. After a leadoff walk in the second, however, Ausmus not only shifted third baseman Castellanos to the right side against Brandon Moss, he played Castellanos on the infield dirt. The move paid off with a ground ball in the hole that became a 5-6-3 double play. Castellanos started double plays on both sides of the infield Friday. More >
Streak stopper: Detroit's impressive earned-run streak came to a close in the sixth, when the Indians' offense showed some life with five consecutive hits. Michael Brantley's RBI double down the left-field line off Simon put the Tribe on the board, and Santana and Moss each followed with run-scoring singles. More >
Everyday Al gets to work: Detroit's run of strong starting pitching had left little work for its bullpen, including Al Alburquerque. The Indians' rally in the sixth, however, pressed Alburquerque to work in a jam, replacing Simon with one out and the tying run at first base. Yan Gomes worked the count full on him before he escaped with a key double-play grounder to third. More >
"It was interesting. There was a never-ending joke about midges. I've never heard that before." -- Joba Chamberlain on the atmosphere around the new bullpens at Progressive Field, now located just in front of the concourse in right-center field.
"That's the big inning. We climb back in and we feel like, 'Let's keep playing.' And then right away they came back with three. I think it was Gose that hit that ball, a little bleeder that Zep threw down the line. We talked about that all spring. If they hit the ball 40 or 50 feet, man, you've got to get an out. That one really hurt." -- Indians manager Terry Francona, on pitcher Marc Rzepczynski's throwing error that helped Detroit to a three-run showing in the seventh
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• The Tigers are 4-0 for the second consecutive season and the third time in four years. A win Saturday would give them their first 5-0 start since 2006, the year they went from perennial cellar dwellers to AL champions.
• Cabrera, hobbled for part of last season with right ankle and foot problems, went from first to third base on singles just nine times in 41 chances, according to the annual Bill James Handbook. On Friday, he went first to third on a Yoenis Cespedes bloop single into short right field. It didn't result in a run, but it was a big sign of the slugger's mobility coming off surgery to repair a stress fracture in his foot. He's 1-for-2 in those opportunities this year.
• McAllister drifted into rarely-traveled waters during Detroit's hit parade. Not only did the righty give up the most hits (13) by a Cleveland starter since 2010 (Justin Masterson gave up 13 against Toronto on July 30 that year), he also joined Johnny Miljus (July 25, 1929) as the only Tribe starters to allow at least 13 hits in no more than four innings. More >
In the home half of the eighth, Carlos Santana sent a 1-0 pitch from Tigers lefty Blaine Hardy to left field, where it bounced high off the 19-foot wall for a double. Replays appeared to show the ball possibly striking the arm of a fan leaning over the railing. After a two-minute, 37-second crew-chief review, the umpires deemed that there was fan interference, overturning the initial ruling that the fan did not affect the play at all. Due to the interference, Santana's hit was a double, not a home run.
"I know a fan reached over, so it's worth getting a look at," Francona said. "I don't think anybody really knew for sure until they looked at it."
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers:David Price, who fell one out shy of a shutout of the Twins on Opening Day, will try to repeat his stinginess against the Indians on Saturday afternoon in a rematch of his matchup with Corey Kluber. Price helped thwart Cleveland's postseason aspirations with two wins in as many meetings last September, tossing 14 ⅓ innings of two-run ball combined. First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m. ET.
Indians: Kluber will look to build on a solid Opening Day start when he takes the mound in this battle of past Cy Young Award winners. The righty held Houston to two runs and pitched into the eighth in his first outing of the year, but was hung with a hard-luck loss.