CLEVELAND — The Indians finished their portion of the Progressive Field schedule in style Wednesday.
In a doubleheader that accounted for the final two home games of the season, Cleveland swept Central Division rival Detroit, shutting out the Tigers 4-0 in the opening game, before completing the sweep via a 4-3 victory in the nightcap.
The Indians have won six straight games to equal their season high in the department. “It was a great homestand, especially with the way we finished it off today,” said Cleveland manager Manny Acta, whose club went 6-1 in the final homestand of the season. “I thought it was special for us and the fans. We wanted to finish that way. I think our fans deserved that, so they can wind up with a good taste in their mouth.”
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The Indians won Game 1 behind the pitching of Mitch Talbot and the offense of Shin-Shoo Choo and Travis Hafner.
Talbot tossed seven scoreless innings, while allowing five hits and striking out five without a walk. Hafner and Choo both hit two-run home runs, combining for five of their team’s nine hits. “Mitch set the tone for us,” Acta said. “He was just very good from the get-go. He was in command the whole time. He gave us the opportunity to let our middle of the order produce.”
It was a positive finish to an otherwise disappointing second half for Talbot, who spent time on the disabled list and posted just two wins after June 27.
“To finish off the season like this on a good note is great,” said Talbot, who was a rookie of the year candidate after starting the season at 5-2. “That’s what you think about when you’re driving home or sitting on the couch after the season.”
Talbot finished the year with a 10-13 record and 4.41 ERA in 28 starts.
“A good start like that was good for him, since he struggled in the second half,” Acta said. “He won double digits in the big leagues in his first year as a starter. That’s not too shabby.”
Choo, Cleveland’s most productive hitter, has been steady all season, but Hafner has turned it on after a disappointing first half. He is batting .331 (49-for-148) in 42 games since the All-Star break.
“I feel like I’ve swung the bat better in the second half,” Hafner said. “I’m just trying to be more consistent. You want to finish the season strong and have something to build on in the offseason.”
The Indians beat one of the American League’s best starting pitchers, Justin Verlander, in the second game.
Trailing 3-1 after three innings, Cleveland closed to within a run on an RBI single from Jayson Nix in the fourth before scoring twice in the fifth to forge ahead for good.
The game-winning run scored on a squeeze bunt from Trevor Crowe that scored Michael Brantley. Crowe got the bunt down on a pitch that was outside and up at his head.
“We had a tough challenge in Verlander,” Acta said. “We had to do what we had to do to score and get ahead in the game. Crowe deserves a lot of credit. It was a tough, tough pitch to bunt. It’s probably the most exciting play in the game.”
Josh Tomlin started for the Indians against Verlander, allowing three runs on nine hits over five innings. The right-hander pitched at least five innings in each of his 12 starts this season, joining Steve Dunning as the only two Cleveland pitchers since 1920 to log five innings in each of their first 12 major league starts.
Cleveland’s victories evened the season series between the two teams at 9-9, both clubs going 8-1 at home.
Shelley Duncan stole second in the eighth inning of Game 2, accounting for the first stolen base of his career.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org.