CLEVELAND — The Indians' dominance of Detroit is reaching a historic level.
Cleveland beat the Tigers for the 15th straight time, a 7-2 victory Tuesday night that improved the Indians to 16-1 in the season series — with a loss at Comerica Park
With two more games left in the series this week, the Indians have a chance to match their team record for consecutive wins against a team in one season, set against Baltimore from May 21-Sept. 6, 1954. Just what the Indians need.
Cleveland closed within a half-game of Tampa Bay for the second AL wild card and remained five games behind Minnesota in the AL Central.
"We've got to keep battling," rookie Oscar Mercado said after homering. "We have a chance to do something special. We can't get down on ourselves and think about how luck hasn't been on our side."
Adam Plutko (7-4) allowed two runs and four hits in six innings his first win since he beat Detroit on Aug. 27. He is 4-0 against the Tigers, including three victories this season.
Mercado hit a solo drive off Zac Reininger (0-3) in the second for his 12th homer. Jordan Luplow's pinch-hit triple in the third drove in two runs, and Roberto Pérez also had two hits and two RBIs.
Mercado, called up from Triple-A Columbus in May, is batting .282 and has brought stability to a team that's played through adversity.
"Everything just feels good right now," he said. "My confidence is pretty high. I'm trying to ride it out as long as I can."
Reininger started in place of Matthew Boyd, who is away from the team for personal reasons. Reininger was charged with four runs in two-plus innings.
"We were hoping for Reiny to give us three innings, but he got into some trouble in the third, so that didn't happen," Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was kind of survival after that."
Dawel Lugo homered in the fifth for Detroit. Víctor Reyes singled in a run in the third.
Indians 2N Jason Kipnis will miss the rest of the season with a broken right hand. He is expected to have surgery in the next few days.
Andrew Velazquez, called up from the minors to replace Kipnis, made a long run to catch Lugo's foul popup in the second. Velazquez hung on to the ball after banging into the stands. Kipnis, wearing a brace on his hand, clapped in the dugout following the play.
Velazquez, recalled from Triple-A Columbus before the game, struck out in all four at-bats, but also started a double play in the seventh. The 25-year-old was acquired from the Rays on July 3.
"It was exciting to see," Plutko said. "He really saved us a couple of times."
Franmil Reyes was scratched as Cleveland's designated hitter because he's dealing with a family matter.
IT'S NOT EASY
Tigers C Grayson Greiner admitted the losing ways against the Indians and the season in general has been tough.
"It always stings losing," he said. "It's the worst feeling in our profession. It doesn't matter who you're going against."
Tigers: 3B Jeimer Candelario (bruised triceps) was scratched, one day after being hit by a pitch.
Indians: LHP Brad Hand is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Wednesday. He hasn't pitched since Sept. 8 with what the team says is a tired arm.
Tigers: RHP Spencer Turnbull (3-15, 4.77 ERA) leads the majors in losses going into Wednesday's start. The rookie is 0-11 over 15 starts since beating Atlanta on May 31.
Indians: Rookie RHP Aaron Civale (3-3, 1.93 ERA) is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against Detroit.
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