DETROIT — Brandon Inge said he wasn’t sure how to prepare for today’s Home Run Derby, but the Cleveland Indians gave him a good chance to warm up.
Inge homered twice Sunday, giving him 21 on the season, and the Detroit Tigers went on to rout the Indians 10-1.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do out there, but I’m also not sure how I’ve gotten to 21 in the first place,” said Inge, who has only reached 20 homers one other time in his nine-year career. “I’m just trying to play hard and still have fun, and that will be my plan for St. Louis too.”
Inge and Clete Thomas combined for eight RBIs, with Thomas falling a double short of the cycle.
“I thought about the double when I was coming up the last time, but I was trying to keep my mind clear,” said Thomas, who has replaced Magglio Ordonez in the lineup against right-handed pitching. “This was just a great day — you almost hate to have a break when you are on a roll.”
All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander (10-4) went seven shutout innings, allowing five hits and three walks. He struck out eight, giving him 149 for the season — the most by a Tiger pitcher at the All-Star break since Mickey Lolich had 156 in 1972.
“I thought I threw the ball pretty well, but the guys make it pretty easy when they put up 10 runs,” he said.
Verlander is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA against Cleveland this season.
“He’s been pretty special this year,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland added. “That’s why he’s getting on that plane to St. Louis.”
Tomo Ohka (0-3) took the loss, giving up five runs on five hits and a walk in 3 2/3 innings.
“My fastball was up,” he said. “I felt OK, but I kept making bad pitches.”
Cleveland (35-54) has lost 11 of its last 16 games and 19 of 26. The Indians enter the break 14 games behind first-place Detroit.
“It’s been a disappointment,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “There’s a long way to go, and I still feel good about the lineup we are putting out there every day, but we’ve got to improve the rotation and our bullpen.”
Detroit took a 1-0 lead in the second on Thomas’ RBI triple, then put the game away with nine runs in a three-inning stretch.
In the fourth, Thomas hit a three-run homer and Inge followed with his 20th home run of the season to put the Tigers ahead 5-0. The same pair struck again in the fifth, with Thomas hitting an RBI single and Inge following with a two-run homer.
Detroit added two more in the sixth when Marcus Thames singled with the bases loaded and Asdrubal Cabrera misplayed the ball to let the 10th run score.
Cleveland loaded the bases with two out in the seventh, but Verlander struck out pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll with his 116th and final pitch, then left to a standing ovation from the crowd of 39,680.
The Indians loaded the bases in the ninth on a double and two walks, and Zach Miner walked Carroll to force in Cleveland’s only run of the game.
“We’ve seen a pitcher this year that has been about as good against one team as you can be,” Wedge said. “When he’s got all three of his pitches going, he’s as good as anyone, and that’s what happened today.”
l Verlander, Inge and fellow All-Stars Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson were honored in a pregame ceremony. They were scheduled to fly to St. Louis Sunday evening on owner Mike Ilitch’s private plane. “That’s a great gesture by Mr. I,” Verlander said.
l Before this season, Verlander had faced Cleveland 15 times, going 4-10 with a 6.70 ERA.
l Catcher Victor Martinez, Cleveland’s only All-Star, went 1 for 3 before leaving the game after the Indians fell behind by double figures.
l Detroit is 27-13 at home, its best 40-game start since 1984.