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Tigers 7, Indians 2: J.D. Martinez owns the Tribe

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J.D. Martinez continued his season long rampage against Detroit's Central division foes, driving in four runs in support of a dominant David Price. The win moves the Tigers back into first place in the AL Central.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers made a bid to retake the top spot in the Central division, beating up on the Cleveland Indians 7-1 behind a four RBI night from J.D. Martinez. The win moved the 81-66 Tigers into first place over the 80-66 Kansas City Royals, who fell 4-2  to the Boston Red Sox, falling 1/2 back of Detroit.

In the wild card race, as the standings stand after a Detroit victory and Kansas City loss, the Seattle Mariners are hovering 1/2 game behind the Royals. The badly stumbling Oakland Athletics' lead for the top wild card slot is down to just a single game over the Royals.

David Price (W, 14-11) made the most of his run support, holding the Indians to one run on eight hits, striking out seven, and not walking a batter in his 7 2/3 innings. Jim Johnson took over from there, allowing one run in his 1 1/3  innings of relief.

Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (L, 7-5) pitched into the seventh, scattering seven hits while allowing four runs, striking out five and walking two in his 6 1/3 innings. CC Lee replaced Carrasco, only to be knocked around by the Tigers to the tune of three runs, two hits and walk in his 1/3 of an inning. Josh Tomlin would shut down Detroit over the final  1 1/3 inning, but the damage had long been done ... most of it inflicted by castoff of the Houston Astros.

Picked up as a free agent at the end of spring training, Martinez has become an absolute godsend to the Tigers' offense, making himself at home in the fifth spot. He led Detroit bats tonight, drilling his 21st home run as part of a 2-for-4, four RBI evening. Victor Martinez's two hits, raised his average to .335, also driving in his 97th run of the season. Ian Kinsler added two hits and run scored, Alex Avila and Nick Castellanos each chipping in an RBI.

Outhit 11-9 by Detroit, ex-Tiger Ryan Raburn gave the Indians their only lead of the game, hitting his fourth home run of the season in the second inning. It was all Tigers from that point on, save for Lonnie Chisenhall adding a meaningless RBI double in the ninth to wrap up the scoring.

ROARS:

J.D. Martinez: A huge night at the plate for Martinez, who is looking more and more like the Tigers' long-term solution in lefl field. Before being pulled for a pinch-runner in the seventh, Martinez flashed his tremendous power by driving in four runs by clubbing a two run home run in the fourth and a two RBI triple in the seventh. Martinez is now hitting .305/.347/.553 with 21 home runs and 69 RBI.

Ian Kinsler: Two hits and a run scored from the top of the order for the struggling Kinsler.

Victor Martinez: Continued his quest for a batting title with two hits and an RBI, raising his average to .335. The Astros' Jose Altuve entered tonight's play holding a narrow lead over Martinez, hitting .336.

David Price: This is the sort of dominant performance you expect to see from Price - 7 2/3 innings, 105 pitches, one run, eight hits, no walks, eight strikeouts. He ate up innings while slamming the door on the Tribe offense.

HISSES:

Ryan Raburn's home run: Come on. Someone, ANYONE other than Raburn!

NOTES:

Brad Ausmus held off on announcing his lineup, waiting on a status update about Miguel Cabrera. His sore ankle forced him to DH for the fourth consecutive game. Victor Martinez again flipped positions with Cabrera, playing first base. Cabrera would single and score a run in four at-bats.

Andrew Romine hit well over the past four games (5-for-14, .357), but took a seat as Eugenio Saurez got his first start as shortstop since September 6. Saurez has struggled mightily in the second half, hitting just .233/.296/.287 since the break. The rest helped Saurez (he called it a needed mental break), who singled in four plate appearances while playing a flawless game at short.

Ryan Raburn is gonna Ryan Raburn, but at times he can sneak up on you. In the second inning, Raburn (having an awful season, hitting .193/.240/.276) stung David Price for a solo home run, his fourth of the season.

Raburn played a part in the Tigers tying the game at 1-all in the third. Two out and Nick Castellanos on second, Ian Kinsler sliced a liner to right. Raburn made a very ill-advised dive on a ball which was going to plate the run, no matter what. The liner skipped by Raburn, only a very lucky and fortunate bounce was the only reason Kinsler stopped at second and was not racing around the bases (MLB.com video).

J.D. Martinez gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead in the fourth, hitting a ball you immediately knew was out of the park just by the tremendous sound it made leaving the bat. Cabrera on third base, Martinez absolutely smoked a Carlos Carrasco 93 MPH fastball to left for his 21st home run of the season. Tribe left fielder Mike Aviles didn't even move as the ball sailed deep into the stands, landing just short of the brick wall emblazoned with the Tigers' retired numbers (MLB.com video).

Alex Avila pulled off a ridiculously good highlight reel grab in the fifth, leaping into the netting behind home plate to nab Aviles' foul pop.

Manager Brad Ausmus jokingly alluded to his Gold Glove career as a catcher when asked about the grab:

"I would have caught it without the jump, but it was a nice catch."

The Tigers issued a four run knockout punch to the Indians in the bottom of the seventh, the rally started by a Kinsler single and Torii Hunter walk. Victor Martinez extended Detroit's lead to 4-1, his RBI single driving home Kinsler.

Martinez the Junior's big night continued, following up Martinez the Elder's RBI single with a booming two RBI triple to the scoreboard in right center, increasing the Tigers' lead to 6-1. Martinez was pulled for a pinch-runner, pinch-runner Ezequiel Carrera.

Avila got into the act on offense, driving in the Tigers' seventh and final run. His cue shot off the end of the bat hugged the third base line, good for an RBI infield single, plating Carrera.

STREAKS AND STATS:

J.D. Martinez has hit 21 home runs this season, 11 coming against two teams who just happen to be the Tigers' closest competition in the Central. Martinez has six home runs against the Tribe (along with 16 RBI) and five off the Royals.

Depending on the site you prefer, Martinez has a 2.7 WAR on Fangraphs and 3.2 on Baseball Reference. Both sites agree the only Tigers with a higher WAR value are (in varying order) Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera and Ian Kinsler.

The four RBI game was the fifth of Martinez's career. His last four RBI game was June 16, 2014 versus the Royals.

Over his past five starts, Davis Price has been either on or off, no in-between. On August 21 and September 1, Price was beyond excellent - 15 innings, nine hits, two runs, including the complete game one hitter against his former team, the Rays. His starts on August 27 and September 6 were the polar opposite - 10 2/3 innings, 21 hits, 13 runs, including his two inning, 12 run disaster against the Yankees. The every other game being lights out streak continued tonight for Price - 7 2/3 innings, eight hits, one run.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

ROLL CALL:

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