CLEVELAND — The Indians were thrilled to have two All-Stars. The Tigers have four more than that.
Detroit also has more pitching. More hitting. More everything.
But after being throttled for the second straight day – and beaten for the seventh time in a row – by the AL Central leaders, the Indians decided it was time to regroup and figure out a new game plan.
"We're definitely not intimidated by them," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said following Detroit's 9-4 win on Saturday. "We've just come out flat the last couple days. We're looking to change that."
The Tigers have helped with the flattening. They've outscored the Indians 16-4 in the first two games of the four-game series, extending their division lead to 3 1/2 over the second-place Indians.
Not long after getting into the clubhouse, Kipnis said the Indians, now 2-8 against the defending AL champions this season, discussed how they intend to make the next two games different.
"The pressure's not really on us, it's got to be on them and that's the way we've got to approach it," said Kipnis, named an All-Star for the first time. "They are the guys who made the World Series last year. They are the guys with the big names and the big contracts and all that stuff and we've just got to be able to run with it.
"We haven't been playing the way we've been winning games, having fun, moving guys around and we're going to look to change that and do that tomorrow."
Torii Hunter drove in three runs and Miguel Cabrera cracked a two-run homer as the Tigers won their fifth straight and improved to 11-3 against the Indians since last September.
Hunter hit a two-run homer, tripled and doubled for the Tigers, who followed up their 7-0 shutout on Friday with another impressive rout.
The Indians came into the series hoping to cut into Detroit's lead. Instead, the Tigers have opened some distance and are threatening to widen the gap.
"We'll show up tomorrow," Indians manager Terry Francona promised. "We certainly need to do better against them. They're the team that is directly ahead of us and they've kind of had their way with us, but I don't think we'll show up tomorrow and not feel we're going to win. But we need to play better."
There's no doubt. The Tigers have outplayed the Indians in every facet, and with Doug Fister (6-5) and Max Scherzer (13-0) still scheduled to start, Cleveland will have to rally to avoid being swept.
Anibal Sanchez (7-5) returned from the disabled list and pitched five innings for his first win since June 4.
Cabrera and Prince Fielder homered in the third inning against Carlos Carrasco (0-4), who was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to face the AL's best hitting team.
Nick Swisher and Ryan Raburn went deep for Cleveland, which has dropped four straight and hasn't been getting the starting pitching it needs. Cleveland starters have failed to pitch into the sixth inning 33 times this season – an AL high.
Already leading 7-1, Hunter's two-run homer in the sixth put the Tigers ahead by eight. With a chance to become the first Detroit player to hit for the cycle since Carlos Guillen in 2006 – and the first to do it in Progressive Field history – Hunter tapped out on a slow roller in the eighth.
Sanchez had been sidelined since June 16 with a strained shoulder. With the luxury of a large lead, he was able to pitch relaxed and allowed one run and three hits before Leyland pulled him after 73 pitches.
Carrasco wasn't so lucky.
He survived his first trip through Detroit's vaunted lineup unscathed, but the right-hander wasn't so fortunate the second time around as the Tigers roped two homers, two doubles and a single in the third off Carrasco, who hasn't won in the majors since June 29, 2011. He missed all of 2012 following Tommy John surgery.
Cabrera connected for a two-run homer and Fielder followed with another drive as the Tigers, who blanked the Indians 7-0 on Friday, scored four times – all with two outs.
With one out, Austin Jackson doubled before Carrasco retired Hunter on a hard liner to center. Cabrera fouled off two pitches before launching his 27th homer into the left-field seats to make it 2-0, thrilling thousands of orange-and-blue clad Detroit fans who made the trip from Michigan.
"He made a real bad pitch to Cabrera," Francona said of Carrasco, who has been wildly inconsistent in his six starts. "With a base open, a breaking ball right down the middle and he did with it what he usually does."
Two pitches later, Fielder hit his 15th homer, a towering blast into the right-field seats to put the Tigers up 3-0 in the game and 10-0 in the series.
Carrasco allowed seven runs, six earned, and 10 hits in 3 1-3 innings – not the start he wanted.
And the Indians aren't off to the start they needed against the Tigers.
NOTES: Kipnis had his hitting streak stopped at 16 games and he failed to reach base for the first time in 37 games. Kipnis batted .446 (25 of 56) during his streak. ... Of Raburn's 10 homers, three have come against the Tigers, his former team. ... Kipnis is the first Cleveland second baseman selected to the All-Star team since Ronnie Belliard (2004). ... Francona is opposed to the league that wins the All-Star game receiving home-field advantage in the World Series. "I'm not sure I have the answer," said Francona, who managed the AL team in 2005 and 2008. "But you play all year in our sport, I think that should mean something." ... Former Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel threw out the ceremonial first pitch, intentionally firing it over the head of Carlos Baerga and to Alvaro Espinoza, who was standing near the backstop.