DETROIT — Ian Kinsler’s first few weeks with Detroit have been just what the Tigers were expecting.
Kinsler homered and drove in four runs, and the Tigers held on for a 7-5 victory over the Indians on Thursday.
Kinsler, a graduate of Canyon del Oro High School, has settled into Detroit’s leadoff spot nicely after the Tigers traded Prince Fielder for Kinsler in the offseason. He hit his second homer of the season — a three-run shot in the fifth inning — and raised his average to .327.
“I’m playing ball, man — I love to play baseball,” Kinsler said. “I’m enjoying myself. I would like to win some more games, but right now we’re playing OK and just waiting to erupt a little bit and run off a bunch of wins in a row.”
Justin Verlander (2-1) allowed three unearned runs in five innings, and the Tigers trailed 3-1 before Kinsler’s homer off Danny Salazar (0-2).
Detroit never gave up the lead after scoring four runs in the fifth, although Cleveland’s Michael Brantley hit a two-run homer in the seventh to make it 6-5.
Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his second save in four chances. The Tigers used five relievers, trying to make it through the late innings with a bullpen that has been shaky so far.
“I think as we go along here, we’ll start to learn when guys are going to go in the game and when their role is going to be called upon,” Nathan said. “That’ll help with preparation and getting yourself mentally ready to go in.”
There were four unearned runs in a sloppy game that included five errors, three by the Tigers.
Lonnie Chisenhall had four hits for the Indians, raising his average to .522.
Cleveland’s Jason Kipnis was ejected after striking out in the third inning. Kipnis struck out swinging with the bases loaded for the third out, then appeared to say something to plate umpire Lance Barrett, who immediately threw him out of the game.