CLEVELAND — There was a humongous hole in Detroit’s lineup, and the Indians took advantage of it.
Carlos Carrasco kept the AL’s best hitting team — missing slugger Miguel Cabrera — in check for eight innings and Cleveland won its first home game this season against the Tigers, 8-2 on Wednesday.
Carrasco (9-6) carried a two-hit shutout into the seventh before giving up a two-run homer to J.D. Martinez. The right-hander allowed five hits, struck out seven and didn’t have to deal with the fearsome Cabrera, who came in batting .619 against the Indians this season but was given a day off.
Indians manager Terry Francona nearly fell off his chair when describing how it felt not to see Detroit’s No. 24 coming to the plate.
“Ohhhhh, like you can’t believe,” Francona said. “His presence in that lineup, when you get down to the bottom of the order, you’re thinking, well, if this guy gets on he’s coming up. But he could not get a bat today to reach the plate and that was a good feeling.”
The Indians came in 0-5 against the four-time defending AL Central champions in Cleveland this season and were just 5-20 at Progressive Field versus the Tigers since the start of 2013.
“We’d much rather take the series from them,” closer Cody Allen said. “But they’ve had our number here the last couple years, that’s no secret.”
Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis, the league’s leading hitter, extended his hitting streak to 19 games, and rookie Francisco Lindor hit his first career homer off Buck Farmer (0-2) to help the Indians salvage the series finale and improve to 15-23 at home.
The Indians caught a break before the game even began as the Tigers rested Cabrera, who has destroyed Cleveland pitching throughout his career but especially this season, when he seems to hit a line drive every time up. Manager Brad Ausmus wanted to give his star slugger a day to relax.
“Even Superman needs a day off,” Ausmus said of Cabrera, hitting an absurd .682 (15 for 22) in Cleveland this year. “People say, ‘How can you give Miggy a day off? But if you get through 162 games and he doesn’t have a day off, they’ll also say, ‘How can you not give him a day off?’”
Without Cabrera in the middle of their lineup, the Tigers were missing their biggest bat and they never got going against Carrasco, who came in with a 6.93 ERA against Detroit.
The right-hander tried to downplay the absence of Cabrera, but the Tigers just aren’t the same team without him.
“It’s a little bit different,” Carrasco said. “But you know what? You have to battle, you have to do your job and everything. It doesn’t matter if he’s playing or not. It’s more important you make good pitches. That’s what you need to do.”
Farmer was called up from Triple-A Toledo to start for Detroit in place of Justin Verlander, scratched with a stiff back. Farmer allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.
After playing from behind against the Tigers all season, the Indians took a 3-0 lead in the third on Michael Brantley’s RBI single and Carlos Santana’s two-out, two-run double.
Farmer struck out five straight Cleveland hitters before Kipnis singled with one out in the third to extend his hitting streak at home to 28 straight games — the longest at home for an Indians player since Miguel Dilone in 1980.
Lindor reached on a broken-bat single before Brantley pulled a single to right. David Murphy singled and Santana followed with a shot to the gap in right-center, just his fourth hit in 27 at-bats during the eight-game homestand.
Lindor, who has shown he’s major league-ready defensively, connected for his first homer with one out in the fifth to make it 4-0.
“I’m not used to hitting home runs,” the 21-year-old said. “I knew I got something good, but I saw J.D. turn around. I was just trying to go two, but it went over the fence. I’m happy.”
During his 28-game home hitting streak, Kipnis is batting .500 (54 of 108) with 17 doubles, three homers and 15 RBIs. His streak is the longest in the majors this season and the best since Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez hit in 29 consecutive home games in 2012.
“He’s been a force,” Francona said. “He’s been one of the best players in the game.”
Indians: C Yan Gomes drove in two runs after missing three straight games with a stiff neck. He was itching to return, sending a text message to his manager at 1:30 a.m. “He declared himself ready to play,” Francona said. “He said, ‘I’ve got to play.’”
Tigers: Alfredo Simon (7-4) starts as Detroit returns home to begin a four-game series — and nine-game homestand — against the White Sox, who will send LHP Carlos Rodon (3-1) to the mound.
Indians: Following an off day, Corey Kluber, who has received two or fewer runs of support in 11 of 15 starts, opens a three-game series in Baltimore against lefty Wei-Yin Chen.