Created on Wednesday, 07 August 2013 Written by TOM WITHERS,AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians have two more chances to slow down the Tigers, two more tries in this series to figure out how to beat a team that has their number.
A season of promise may have reached its turning point.
"We need to win tomorrow," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.
For the second straight day, Detroit showed why it's the team to beat the AL Central and why any challengers had better be ready to rumble for nine innings.
Justin Verlander overpowered Cleveland's lineup for eight innings and Justin Masterson gave up a three-run homer to personal nemesis Don Kelly as the Tigers won their 10th straight, 5-1 over the Indians, who can't handle the one team they're chasing.
Verlander (12-8) allowed one run and four hits as the Tigers beat the Indians for 10th time in 11 games to open a five-game lead over Cleveland.
Kelly connected in the fifth inning off Masterson (13-8) and Miguel Cabrera picked up his 100th RBI as the Tigers improved to 11-3 against their nearest division rival.
Masterson had one bad inning, and it cost him.
Kelly's three-run shot highlighted Detroit's five-run fifth off the right-hander, who hurt himself by hitting two batters during the inning.
"It was all done in 16 pitches," Francona said. "Other than that, Masty was real good, but you give them an opening and that's what they can do."
First, Masterson plunked No. 9 hitter Ramon Santiago, who had squared to bunt before getting drilled. Austin Jackson followed with a single and Torii Hunter's RBI groundout brought in Santiago to tie it 1-all. Miguel Cabrera, who missed three games with a hip injury, then sent a drive off the center field wall for a go-ahead RBI double, arriving at second with a slow-motion slide.
One out later, Masterson hit Victor Martinez on the right foot and Detroit's DH hopped around in pain before limping to first but staying in the game. Kelly followed by drilling a 1-1 pitch into the Tigers' bullpen for his fifth homer to make it 5-1.
Kelly owns Masterson. He's now 11 of 24 (.458) with two homers and eight RBIs. On June 9, he hit a three-run homer off Masterson in Detroit's 4-1 win.
"If I was Superman, he'd be my Kryptonite," Masterson said. "There's always a guy. He salivates when I'm up there."
Kelly was in the lineup because of his outrageous numbers against Masterson.
"He's definitely been a thorn in our side," Francona said. "There was a reason he was playing tonight and that was why."
The Indians, who are 24-10 against the Central's three other teams, have to win the next two over Detroit just to gain a split.
To do that, they'll have to beat Doug Fister and Max Scherzer.
"Detroit has four aces, which is why they are so good," Indians manager Terry Francona said before the game.
Although Scherzer leads the AL with 16 wins and is the front-runner to win the Cy Young this season, Verlander remains the Tigers' top gun and the one they turn to when things get tough.
He has struggled at times this season, but after watching video of his 2011 MVP season made a change in his delivery.
"The adjustment that I made obviously made not just a little impact but a pretty big impact," said Verlander, who explained he altered his motion toward the plate. "Everything I've been searching for I was able to find it today. That's a huge stride in the right direction."
Verlander gave up an RBI groundout in the second, but otherwise handled the Indians with ease. When Cleveland threatened in the sixth with two on and none out, Verlander turned up the heat.
He retired Nick Swisher on a deep fly to right before blowing a 100 mph fastball past All-Star Jason Kipnis for strike two and then locked him up with an 84 mph changeup.
Verlander then got Asdrubal Cabrera to ground out on another fastball then hit the century mark on the radar gun. As he headed toward the dugout, the right-hander pumped his fist knowing he had probably put the Indians away for good.
"We had a couple chances and he seemed to find another gear tonight, that we've unfortunately seen in the past," Francona said. "When he starts hitting 100 at the knees, that's tough."
The Indians got some bad news even before losing their second straight game as starter Corey Kluber was put on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right middle finger. Kluber injured his finger throwing a breaking ball in Monday night's game when he pitched 7 1-3 shutout innings.
There is no timetable on Kluber's injury, but Indians starter Zach McAllister recently missed seven weeks with a similar ailment.
"I'm disappointed for him," Francona said. "It makes it harder for us. It's not that we can't do it, it just makes it harder. He has worked so hard and he will be fine but you have to be patient with these kinds of things or you can get yourself in trouble so we won't."
NOTES: Cleveland's five-game deficit is its largest since June 17 ... Francona said the Indians would have further information on Kluber before Wednesday's game. ... The Tigers have won 14 of 18 against the Indians dating to Sept. 5 last season. Detroit has outscored Cleveland 109-62 in those games. ... Indians rookie RHP Danny Salazar will make his second career start Wednesday. Ubaldo Jimenez was pushed back for Salazar, who took a no-hitter into the sixth in his debut on July 11. Kluber's injury could keep Salazar in the rotation. ... Francona said LHP Scott Kazmir will start in Kluber's spot on Saturday against the Angels. ... The Tigers are 23-7 since July 2.