DETROIT – The inside of Casey Crosby’s locker was drenched, and the Detroit left-hander’s T-shirt was a bit wet too after the traditional beer shower celebrating his first career win.
“It was the best feeling in the world,” the 23-year-old rookie and Kaneland alumnus said.
Miguel Cabrera homered, Brennan Boesch broke out of a slump with a pair of hits and Crosby pitched into the sixth inning to earn his first major league victory, helping the Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians, 7-5, on Thursday.
Cleveland nearly rallied from a 7-1 deficit but, with the Tigers leading by two, the Indians left the bases loaded in the seventh and two on in the eighth.
“It was a good series overall, but seven was just too many for us today,” Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. “Our offense did a great job of battling back. We had a couple times where we just needed one more hit.”
Detroit avoided a three-game sweep and beat the Indians for the first time in six meetings this year.
Crosby (1-1) allowed three runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings. Jose Valverde pitched a perfect ninth for his 10th save in 13 chances.
Derek Lowe (7-4) allowed seven runs and nine hits in five innings.
Crosby is in Detroit’s rotation because of an injury to Doug Fister, and he was sharper after a rough outing against the New York Yankees in his debut last week. The Tigers gave him plenty of support, scoring four runs in the first and three in the fourth.
“There’s a lot of things going on in your debut. You’ve got family, you’ve got friends, you’ve got people congratulating you all the time,” Crosby said. “This was a lot better. I knew it was going to happen, I knew what I was going to expect going into this start so it was definitely a positive thing.”
Boesch’s single in the first put runners on first and third with nobody out, ending a 2-for-38 stretch for the big right fielder. Prince Fielder, Delmon Young and Don Kelly hit RBI singles, and another run came home on a wild pitch.
The Tigers were a season-high six games under .500 coming into the game – a far cry from what was expected when the defending AL Central champions added Fielder in the offseason. They lost to Cleveland on Wednesday night in part because an error by Boesch led to three unearned runs.
On Thursday, Boesch’s RBI double in the fourth made it 5-1, and Cabrera followed with his 13th homer of the year, a two-run shot that barely cleared the wall in right.
“I’m tired of talking about adjustments,” Boesch said. “Hitting is not about some mechanical thing, it’s just grinding out at-bats and doing what you can to help the team win.”
The Indians eventually chased Crosby in the sixth and scored two runs that inning. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run double in the seventh to make it 7-5, and Tigers manager Jim Leyland brought Joaquin Benoit in with two outs and men on first and third.
Cleanup hitter Carlos Santana drew a walk to load the bases, and Jose Lopez hit a deep flyball. Detroit’s Quintin Berry nearly got turned around in center field but was able to make the catch.
With runners on second and third and two outs in the eighth, Benoit got Shin-soo Choo to hit a popup.
Notes: Acta discussed OF Grady Sizemore’s return from lower back surgery before the game. “I think the process has been slowed down a little bit, but we never had any timetable for Grady,” Acta said. ... Fielder extended his hitting streak to 14 games. ... Cleveland’s Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 15. ... Detroit RHP Brayan Villarreal relieved Crosby in the sixth and threw 15 straight strikes before finally missing the zone the following inning. ... Lopez was at third as a baserunner in the fourth when he was sent sprawling to avoid being hit by Shelley Duncan’s foul line drive. ... Detroit is at Cincinnati on Friday night, with RHP Rick Porcello (3-4) starting against RHP Mat Latos (4-2) of the Reds. ... The Indians are at St. Louis on Friday night. Cleveland RHP Josh Tomlin (2-3) starts against RHP Jake Westbrook (4-5).