DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers have been losing to Cleveland all season, so it was fitting that the Indians celebrated their AL Central title at Comerica Park.
It’s hard to explain the one-sided nature of this series this year. All the Tigers know is that they’ll be in real trouble if it doesn’t change soon.
Buck Farmer allowed four runs in five innings, and Detroit couldn’t rally against the Cleveland bullpen, losing 7-4 on Monday night to fall two games behind Baltimore for the second AL wild card. The Indians clinched the division crown, improving to 14-2 against the Tigers this season.
“I can’t really explain it, but the truth is, they’ve outplayed us,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “They’ve outhit us, they’ve outpitched us, they’ve out-defended us. It’s simple.”
Corey Kluber left after four innings with right groin tightness, joining Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar in a group of talented Cleveland pitchers dealing with injuries. But even those concerns were secondary when the Indians poured onto the field to celebrate their first division title since 2007.
“It’s hard, man. It is so hard to explain how hard winning is,” manager Terry Francona said. “We’ve had some challenges thrown our way, but so has everyone else. We managed to get this far, and now we get to play more baseball.”
Cleveland last made the postseason in 2013 as a wild card.
Coco Crisp and Roberto Perez homered for the Indians, and Jason Kipnis doubled in a run.
Farmer (0-1) yielded four hits and four walks.
Andrew Miller (10-1) won in relief, and Cody Allen pitched the ninth for his 30th save in 33 chances.
Crisp and Detroit’s J.D. Martinez traded two-run homers in the second, and Cleveland took the lead for good in the fifth on the double by Kipnis. Mike Napoli’s sacrifice fly later that inning made it 4-2.
With the division title 15 outs away, the Indians took the field for the bottom of the fifth without their ace. Kluber, the team leader with 18 wins, was replaced by Dan Otero, and the announcement about the 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner’s groin problem came a little while later.
Miguel Cabrera made it 4-3 with an RBI single, but Perez led off the seventh with a drive to right to put the Indians back up by two.
Cabrera added another run-scoring single in the seventh, but Perez — who entered the game hitting .168 — answered with another big hit in the eighth, lining an RBI single up the middle.
Cleveland made it 7-4 on an error by Martinez in right.
Miller, the third reliever for the Indians, struck out four of the six hitters he faced before giving way to Allen. The final out came on a strikeout by Cameron Maybin.
Now the Tigers have to face the prospect of three more games this week against a Cleveland team that’s dominated them.
“Try to win the next game. There’s nothing you can do,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “You play hard, you prepare, you get ready to play, hopefully it turns around one particular day, and hopefully that day’s tomorrow.”
The Indians weren’t able to clinch the division at home, but Detroit is only about 170 miles from Cleveland, and there were plenty of fans chanting “Let’s Go Tribe!” after this one was over. A large group of Indians supporters gathered behind their dugout on the first base side.
“It was awesome, especially that last inning when they’re all chanting, going crazy,” Napoli said. “Obviously, we wanted to do it at home, but to be able to come here, play Detroit, a team that we can get it done against, it’s nice.”
Indians: Salazar (strained forearm) threw a bullpen session before the game.
Tigers: Ausmus said 3B Nick Castellanos (left hand) could be back before the weekend. He’s currently in the instructional league.
Indians: Cleveland sends RHP Mike Clevinger (2-2) to the mound Tuesday night at Detroit.
Tigers: Detroit counters with RHP Justin Verlander (15-8), who struck out 11 against Minnesota last Thursday.
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister