CLEVELAND — Another night, another walk-off win for the surging Indians.
For the second straight game Cleveland won in its final at-bat, with Orlando Cabrera’s bases-loaded single in the 13th inning Saturday sending the Indians to a 3-2 victory over Central Division rival Detroit.
And for one of the few nights this season at Progressive Field, there was actually more than 10,000 fans taking all of it in, the Indians drawing their second-largest crowd (26,433), which contributed to an electric atmosphere at the park.
“It was fantastic,” said Cleveland manager Manny Acta, whose team improved to 18-8 on the season, matching the Phillies for the best record in baseball. “It was nice to see so many people in the stadium and feel the energy. I’m glad they got to see a game like this.”
Those in attendance also got to see the major league debut of the Indians’ first-round draft pick in 2009, right-hander Alex White, who did not disappoint.
With his entire coaching staff from the University of North Carolina watching from the stands, White was impressive in his first big league start, allowing two runs on six hits, while striking out four over six innings.
Throwing his fastball consistently in the mid-90s, White began his outing with three scoreless innings before allowing both of his runs in the fourth on a pair of home runs from Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Raburn.
“He was very impressive,” Acta said of the 22-year-old White, who undoubtedly earned another big league start in place of injured right-hander Carlos Carrasco. “He kept his composure. He actually looked like he’s been out there before. They hit two home runs and that’s it. We like what we see in him.”
White didn’t crumble after the fourth, allowing just one more hit over the next two innings before calling it a debut.
“It was just a great experience. It was everything I expected,” White said. “My goal was to be invisible. This team is playing so well I didn’t want to affect that. I just wanted to give the team a chance to win and I felt like I did that.”
White was deprived of his first big league victory in large part because of his counterpart, Tigers starter Rick Porcello, who allowed two runs as well, but lasted seven innings, surrendering seven hits and striking out seven.
Like White, Porcello tossed three scoreless innings to start the game, allowing his first run in the fourth on a two-out solo home run from Carlos Santana. Santana was the hero Friday night, belting a walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning to win the series opener.
The Indians tied it off Porcello with another solo shot from Michael Brantley to lead off the sixth.
The runs stopped for an extended spell after the sixth, both the Indians and Tigers bullpens doing a number on hitters to take the game to the 13th inning still tied at two.
Detroit’s relief corps retired 11 straight from the eighth inning to the 11th, while Cleveland’s pen blanked the Tigers on five hits over the last seven innings.
“The pitching was really good from both sides,” Acta said. “Our bullpen was fantastic, giving us the chance to win, and they’re bullpen was very strong, too.”
Both pens offered openings in the final inning, starting with Cleveland’s.
Miguel Cabrera led off with a double off Tony Sipp but Cabrera never left second after Sipp retired the next three batters in order on balls in the air.
The Indians got a leadoff hit as well, taking advantage of their opportunity.
Brantley led off with a single, then advanced on an error from Brayan Villarreal, who misfired on a pickoff attempt. Asdrubal Cabrera’s sacrifice bunt moved Brantley to third base, with the Tigers electing to intentionally walk Shin-Soo Choo and Santana to load the bases for Orlando Cabrera.
Cabrera hit the first pitch he saw from Villarreal over the head of center fielder Austin Jackson to score Brantley with the winning run.
“I’m not a patient guy,” Cabrera said.
Cleveland’s 18 wins are the most in franchise history over the first month of the season.
What do these surprising Indians do for an encore?
“We’ll see what May brings us,” Acta said. “We need to continue to play good baseball and keep it going.”
“We expect to win every night, there’s no doubt about that,” Cabrera said.
“This is better than ‘Major League,’” said closer Chris Perez.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.