The Cleveland Indians got to Detroit starter Justin Verlander early and often in their 6-2 win over the Tigers at Progressive Field on Tuesday night.
The Indians scored five runs in the first two innings, including a four-run second frame that second baseman Mike Aviles punctuated with a two-run double to left field that brought around first baseman Nick Swisher and catcher Yan Gomes.
"(I was) just going up there trying to have a good at-bat," Aviles told Sportstime Ohio after the win. "The biggest thing with Verlander is just to compete. You know he's going to throw strikes. You know he's going to compete, and you know he's going to come after you.
"In that situation, he had thrown me two breaking balls in a row, two sliders, and I was fortunate enough to get one that didn't quite get all the way down to the bottom of the zone, put a good piece on it, and we were able to score runs quick."
Aviles credited the Indians' success against Verlander to their patient approach at the plate.
"It's just one thing we're able to do against him," Aviles said. "We're able to grind out some at-bats. He's a really tough pitcher, has four-plus pitches, but for some reason, we're able to grind out some at-bats, and put together some good team at-bats.
"It's the fact that we know he's not going to give up too many good pitches to wait him out. Sometimes, it works, and sometimes, it doesn't. Tonight, it worked, and we're fortunate for that."
The approach worked, as the Indians pounded out 11 hits and scored five runs against Verlander in his six innings of work. They also drew three walks and struck out only twice, which was Verlander's lowest strikeout total since his first outing of the season.
Tuesday's game was only the fourth time in 10 starts that Verlander was unable to work into the seventh inning.
"As with all pitchers, especially the really good pitchers, you've got to make them earn everything," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We really made him work hard and then, Mikey had the big double that kind of got us going, and we kind of kept the line moving, ran the bases well.
"We worked him real hard because he'll stay out there all day. His work ethic must be incredible because even when you start to get hits, he keeps pitching, so you've got to make him work for everything."
While the Indians got to Verlander early, the combination of Trevor Bauer, Brian Shaw and Cody Allen allowed seven hits and two earned runs, struck out seven hitters and surrendered only three walks in the game.
Two of those seven strikeouts were against former Indian Victor Martinez, who had not struck out twice in the same game this season.
"You're not thinking about striking him out," Allen said of Martinez. "You're thinking about just getting him out or limiting him to a single because he's super-hot right now. The ball he hit out of the ballpark yesterday off of Corey Kluber, nobody else in the world hits that ball out of the ballpark. I made some good pitches and got the out."