Daniel Norris took a big step getting to the sixth inning.
The Detroit Tigers’ bats came up big once more against the Indians’ Trevor Bauer.
The Tigers scored seven runs off Bauer and went on to beat the Indians, 7-1, on Monday at Comerica Park.
Norris struggled with command in the third inning, but made an adjustment and went on to pitch six innings. He had not pitched beyond the fifth inning in his previous two starts.
The Tigers improved to 3-1 against the Indians this season, after losing 14 of 18 meetings against them last season.
Norris improved to 3-0 in five career starts against the Indians. He allowed one run on five hits over six innings. He walked four and struck out eight.
“He did a nice job,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said of Norris. “Went six, gave up one. Still like to see him throw more strikes, get ahead of hitters. When he is ahead of hitters, not lose hitters.
“But he’s got raw stuff and his stuff can get him through it. He did a nice job. One run. Six innings. We’ll take that every time.”
Cleveland got their run in the third, after Norris gave up a leadoff walk to Michael Martinez, though Carlos Santana grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Norris then allowed a single to Francisco Lindor, a walk to Michael Brantley an RBI single to left to Edwin Encarnacion.
The Indians had runners at first and third with two outs in the fourth before Santana flied out to right. Norris had a clean fifth inning, which included striking out Brantley and Encarnacion. After giving up a ground-rule double to Brandon Guyer in the sixth, Norris struck out Austin Jackson and got Roberto Perez to ground out to short.
“Just shows me I’m maturing a little bit as a pitcher, making adjustments on the fly,” Norris said. “I was just missing on my keys there for a minute.
“We got out to a big lead and I just wanted to get ahead of batters. Instead of just throwing strikes, I started thinking about throwing strikes and that kind of got me out of my rhythm.”
Norris’ slider was good.
“Everything felt pretty good,” Norris said. “This was a big jump for me.”
“I felt good,” Norris said. “I was able to make an in-game adjustment. The past two games, I wasn’t able to do that. Today, I did and got through six.”
Nick Castellanos (2-for-5) and Victor Martinez (3-for-5) hit back-to-back RBI singles in the first inning.
Tyler Collins (2-for-4) added a three-run home run in the second and Alex Avila hit a two-run single in the seventh to lead the Tigers offensively.
Victor Martinez twice beat the shift for hits, including the first bunt single of his career. He has hit safely in 10 of his last 13 games.
“He kind of looks like he did the last couple years, where he’s hitting the ball all over the field,” Ausmus said of Martinez. “I think he got in a little bit of a pull mode for a while. He had the double to right-center, he had the single the other way. He’s kind of hitting the ball where they’re pitching him. What they’re giving him he’s taking advantage of.
“I thought a couple days ago he was starting to turn a corner and I firmly expect that you’re going to see Victor Martinez swing the bat a lot better.”
The Tigers improved to 9-4 this season when they score five runs or more. They have scored 14 combined runs over a two-game win streak and are expected to get first baseman Miguel Cabrera back in the lineup on Tuesday. Cabrera has been on the disabled list with a right groin strain since April 22.
Bauer allowed seven runs on seven hits over four-plus innings. He walked five and struck out three. The seven earned runs are tied for the most Bauer has allowed in a game. It’s the third time he’s allowed that many earned runs. He has allowed 13 runs over 12 innings in two starts this season against the Tigers.
Alex Wilson allowed one hit and had one strikeout in the seventh inning for the Tigers. Anibal Sanchez allowed one hit over the final two innings and had three strikeouts.
“That’s as good as he’s thrown, I think, since the season started,” Ausmus said of Sanchez. “His velocity was up. Had good finish on the fastball. He threw some good changeups. That was a good outing.”