DETROIT – Cleveland rookie Ernie Clement hit the first two homers of his career while Miguel Cabrera stayed one drive short of No. 500 as the Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 7-4 on Friday night.
“It was obviously a great feeling to hit my first one, but I was in complete shock when the second one went out,” said Clement, who only had three homers in 268 minor league games.
“My game is about trying to hit the ball hard and get on base for the guys behind me. I'm not a home-run hitter," he said.
Cabrera went 0 for 4, leaving him at 499 career home runs and disappointing a crowd of 22,107. Most fans were crammed into the outfield seats at Comerica Park where the milestone drive might land.
“It was electric every time Miggy came up to the plate," Indians starter Zach Plesac said. “The ground was shaking -- that was a playoff atmosphere. I just didn't want to be the one who gave it up.”
Cabrera struck out in the first inning, flied out twice and grounded out.
“Miggy is fine,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “As great as he is, he can't just will a home run whenever he wants one. He's swinging well and it will come.”
Cabrera homered Wednesday night at Baltimore and sat out Thursday against the Orioles. The Tigers then returned to Detroit to open a six-game homestand.
“We know the fans are here for Miggy, but we're all feeding off this energy,” Tigers catcher Eric Haase said. “We've been a winning team for a couple months now, and it is fun seeing the crowd respond to that.”
Yu Chang homered and tripled for the Indians, who improved to 11-5 against Detroit this season.
Plesac (7-4) allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings. He struck out nine without a walk after giving up five runs in four innings against the Tigers on Sunday.
“I knew I had good stuff in that game, but I didn't do a good job of executing my pitches,” he said. “That's been something I've been dealing with, but today was a lot better.”
Tyler Alexander (2-2) gave up four runs in five innings.
“The top of Cleveland's order is really tough against lefties and he did a really good job against them,” Hinch said. “But the bottom of the order had three homers and a triple. That's just how it goes some days.”
Clement gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead in the third with his first career home run, and Amed Rosario added an RBI single two batters later.
With runners at the corners, plate umpire Ryan Blakney called Franmil Reyes out on strikes, then ejected him for arguing the call.
Chang’s fourth-inning triple put Cleveland ahead 3-0, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Austin Hedges.
Haase made it 4-1 in the fifth, hitting his 19th homer into the shrubs above the center field fence, and the Tigers added another run on Robbie Grossman’s RBI double later in the inning.
Cleveland scored twice in the sixth. Oscar Mercado hit a dribbler down the first-base line, but ended up on second when reliever Joe Jimenez threw it into right field. Mercado stole third and scored on Owen Miller's sacrifice fly.
Chang followed with his third homer, and Clement hit his second of the night to make it 7-2 in the seventh.
“I thought it was probably gone when I hit it, but I don't have a bat flip in my arsenal,” Clement said.
Renato Nunez hit a two-run homer for the Tigers in the ninth.
The Indians recalled Chang and LHP Logan Allen from Triple-A Columbus. OF Harold Ramirez (hamstring) was placed on the injured list and LHP Francisco Perez was optioned to Columbus.
When the Indians presented Clement with his first home-run ball, it was a mess.
“The ball was covered in ketchup and mustard - they told me it had landed in someone's hot dog,” he said. “I just about believed them before they gave me the real one. I think my dad's getting that ball - I'll keep the one with the ketchup and mustard.”
Indians: Tests showed RHP Nick Sandlin has an upper body strain. He will be shut down for 2-4 weeks before being re-evaluated.
Tigers: LHP Matthew Boyd began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo. He has been out since June 15 with arm soreness.
The teams continue their weekend series on Saturday evening with Detroit’s Wily Peralta (3-2, 3.48) facing a Cleveland pitcher to be announced.
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