CLEVELAND — Orlando Cabrera couldn’t wait to give the Cleveland Indians another dramatic win.
Cabrera drove the first pitch he saw in the 13th inning for an RBI single, sending the Indians to their 12th straight home victory, 3-2 over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.
“I’m not a patient guy, so if it was in there, I was swinging,” Cabrera said.
The Indians have been even quicker to strike in the AL Central. Their fifth win in a row finished off the best April record in franchise history at 18-8. Detroit lost its fifth straight.
“An outstanding April,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “Now we’ll see what May brings. This is behind us.”
A day after Carlos Santana hit a game-winning grand slam in the ninth, the Indians went extra innings to extend their best home streak since a 13-game stretch in 1996. Cabrera singled to deep center with the bases loaded and one out.
Michael Brantley singled sharply to open the Cleveland 13th and went to second on a wild pickoff throw by Brayan Villareal (1-1). Asdrubal Cabrera’s sacrifice bunt was fielded by catcher Alex Avila — third baseman Brandon Inge had also come in on the play, and nobody was covering the bag.
Avila threw to first for the out, then Tigers manager Jim Leyland ordered intentional walks to both Shin-Soo Choo and Santana to load the bases. Cabrera knew the situation even before it developed.
“As soon as that wild throw was made, I knew he (Leyland) would walk guys,” Cabrera said. “So did Manny. He said right away, ‘You’re going to hit with the bases loaded.’
“When I went up, he also told me, ‘Look for a sign.’”
That meant be ready for a squeeze bunt, something Acta called for in the eighth inning on April 7 to beat Boston, 1-0.
“I didn’t want to do that, so I was hacking,” Cabrera said.
Tony Sipp (1-0) worked two scoreless innings for the win.
The teams combined for 29 strikeouts, 17 by Tigers pitching.
“Swinging at some pitches we swung at tonight, that’s just not acceptable for a major league team,” Leyland said. “I’m not going to try to sugarcoat it. Just going up there and flailing away, that’s just not acceptable.”
Alex White pitched well in his major league debut for Cleveland, leaving after six innings with a 2-2 score.
“He was very impressive,” Acta said. “He kept his composure and his pitches had good sink, good life.”
The 22-year-old from the University of North Carolina became the ninth player — and eighth pitcher — from the 2009 draft to play in the majors. He fell behind 2-0 on fourth-inning homers by Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Raburn.
“My goal was to be invisible,” White said. “This team is playing so well, I didn’t want to affect that. I made two mistakes — and really paid for them.”
The Indians got a solo shot from Santana in the fourth off starter Rick Porcello and Brantley tied it by leading off the sixth with a drive just inside the right-field foul pole.
“The one to Brantley is tough to swallow,” Porcello said. “I had him 0-2 and went with a slider. I left it hanging. It wasn’t a quality pitch.”
White gave up six hits and two runs over six innings. The 15th pick overall two years ago struck out four and walked four — two of them intentional passes to Cabrera.
With two outs and a runner on first base in the first, Acta ordered White to walk Cabrera. The strategy worked as Brennan Boesch hit into a weak groundout.
“I’m not afraid to say I fear him,” Acta said. “He’s the best hitter in the AL, hands down.”
In the Detroit fourth Cabrera showed it by hitting his seventh homer of the season and second in two nights. In 54 career games against Cleveland, the Tigers’ slugger has 15 homers and 48 RBIs.
One out later, Raburn lined his fourth homer to right.
Porcello, a first-round choice out of high school in 2007, struck out seven over seven innings, allowing two runs and seven hits. It was his first start since April 20. He was skipped in the rotation because of two scheduled off-days in a five-day stretch
NOTES: The crowd of 26,433 was Cleveland’s largest since an opening-day sellout of 41,721. The walk-up of 8,059 was third largest since Progressive Field opened in 1994. ... RHP Jess Todd was designated for assignment by Cleveland to get White on the 40-man roster. RHP Frank Herrmann was optioned to Triple-A Columbus to make room on the big-league roster. ... Indians DH Travis Hafner missed his third straight game. An MRI exam showed Hafner has a strained tendon in his right foot. He will be examined again Monday. ... Tigers RHP Al Alburquerque struck out six over three perfect innings of relief. ... Jackson struck out three times and has fanned 22 times in his last 16 games. Raburn fanned twice for 27 in his last 17.