DETROIT (AP) — Normally, Jerry Sands is just another light-hitting utilityman who spends a lot of time riding buses in Triple-A.
Something changes when he plays the Detroit Tigers, though.
Sands homered, tripled and scored twice as his Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 8-1 on Friday night. He’s hitting .463 against the Tigers this season, with four extra-base hits in 13 at-bats, and just .198 against the rest of the major leagues.
“I don’t do anything differently against them than anyone else,” he said. “It is just one of those things that you can’t explain.”
Sands’ day could have been even better. After his two-run homer in the third inning and his triple to lead off the fifth, he came up for the second time in that inning with the bases loaded and two out. He hit a high hopper down the first line that almost cleared Miguel Cabrera’s glove for what would have been a bases-clearing double.
“You are never trying to hit for the cycle, but when you have a triple and a homer in your first two at-bats, you obviously think about it,” Sands said. “If that had gotten over Miggy’s head, well, I don’t even know how you would try to hit a single, but yeah, I would have known.”
Josh Tomlin pitched his third career complete game, for the Indians, who have won 10 of 14 as they try to stay in the American League wild-card race.
“That was just fun to watch,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Jerry was getting us the big hits, and Josh was just sending them right back to the dugout. He had all his stuff, and he was just pounding the strike zone.”
Tomlin (4-1) was moved up a day after scheduled starter Corey Kluber couldn’t overcome a hamstring strain sustained in a bullpen session earlier in the week. He allowed one run and a walk while striking out six. It was his third complete game, with the last one coming June 28, 2014 in Seattle.
Tomlin was only making his fifth start of the season after spring shoulder surgery.
“We’ve known all year that we had a chance to get some serious help down the stretch from Josh,” Francona said. “We wanted to be as patient as possible, because we knew if we let him get ready, he could do this for us.”
Detroit has lost seven of eight and been outscored 71-21 in that stretch as Ausmus tries to piece together a pitching staff. That got significantly tougher after the trades of David Price and Joakim Soria and injuries to Anibal Sanchez and Daniel Norris.
“We traded David Price and he’s a horse who generally goes deep into games and saves your bullpen,” Ausmus said. “Sanchie goes down, and he was one of the guys we were counting on, and we’re basically replacing those guys with rookies, and then Norris goes down, and he was the top guy in the Price trade. It has all kind of snowballed.”
Kyle Lobstein (3-6), who had been sidelined since May 23 with a shoulder injury, allowed six runs on eight hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings.
“Well, we got the first one out of the way,” Lobstein said. “There were some good things that happened today, but I just fell behind too many hitters and gave them good pitches to hit.”
Indians: Francona expects Kluber to miss at least 10 days. If RHP Carlos Carrasco (shoulder) gets though a Saturday bullpen with no setbacks, he will replace Kluber in the rotation.
Tigers: SS Jose Iglesias will be out for at least two weeks after being hit on the middle finger of his right hand while trying to bunt Thursday night in Kansas City. Initial x-rays were negative, but a follow-up CT scan on Friday showed the fracture. Detroit recalled SS Dixon Machado from Triple-A Toledo to fill in.
The teams play the second of their three-game weekend series Saturday night, with Danny Salazar (12-7, 3.27) facing Alfredo Simon (11-9, 5.09). Despite his winning record, Simon is tied for the major-league lead for most starts allowing six or more earned runs (6, tied with Jeff Samardzjia) and most allowing six more runs (7, tied with three others).