Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning after being brushed back in the first, and the Detroit Tigers beat Cleveland 7-6 on Friday night, sending the defending AL champion Indians to their sixth loss in seven games.
Tensions mounted three batters into the game when Cabrera yelled and gestured at the Indians dugout after an inside pitch from Trevor Bauer. Cabrera shouted at the dugout again when the inning ended, resulting in warnings to both teams.
Cabrera responded in the fifth by lining a 1-1 pitch from Bauer (0-2) into the right-field seats to give Detroit a 4-0 lead. Cabrera, who was booed after the incident, slowly trotted around the bases.
Alex Avila added a two-run homer in the sixth for Detroit, which played its first night game of the season.
Daniel Norris (1-1) allowed two hits in six scoreless innings. Francisco Rodriguez allowed pinch-hitter Lonnie Chisenhall’s grand slam in the ninth, but struck out Austin Jackson for his fourth save.
Cleveland dominated Detroit last season, winning 14 of 18 games on its way to the Central Division title.
Bauer allowed six runs in five-plus innings for the Indians, whose starting pitchers are 1-6 with an AL-worst 6.58 ERA.
The hard feelings between Bauer and the Tigers go back to a September game at Progressive Field when the right-hander hit three Detroit batters, including Cabrera. Bauer also hit Ian Kinsler in the helmet, resulting in a concussion.
Bauer retired the first two batters Friday before throwing inside to Cabrera, who walked from home plate and yelled at the dugout. He returned to the batter’s box, where he patted catcher Roberto Perez on the back.
After a drawing a walk, Cabrera advanced toward third base on an inning-ending fly ball. He again shouted at the dugout before being escorted away by plate umpire Clint Fagan and teammates.
Edwin Encarnacion, who signed a three-year, $60 million contract with Cleveland in January, was 2 for 4 with a walk, and is batting .194.
Norris remained in the game after being hit in the back of the left shoulder by a line drive in the third.
Tigers: OF J.D. Martinez (sprained right foot) is taking swings off a pitching machine, but hasn’t been cleared to run on a field.
Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis, hit by a pitch on the left hand during a minor league game Wednesday, will continue his rehab assignment Saturday at Triple-A Columbus. He’s on the 10-day disabled list with a sore right shoulder.
Tigers: RHP Justin Verlander makes his 49th career start against the Indians, his most against any team.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber pitches on five days rest after taking a 3-2 loss at Arizona on April 9.