DETROIT — Leonys Martin noticed Victor Alcantara putting his head down while preparing to pitch.
It was the right time for the Cleveland baserunner to take off for the plate.
“I wasn’t afraid, man,” Martin said.
Martin stole home in the eighth inning for an insurance run, and the Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 4-2 on Saturday behind an impressive start by Shane Bieber. Detroit managed only one baserunner in the first six innings against Bieber.
Bieber (6-2) allowed four hits and struck out 12 in 7 2⁄3 innings.
Detroit scored twice in the seventh but never led.
Martin provided the highlight of the game with two outs in the eighth, getting a good-sized lead and taking off from third on Alcantara.
“He keep the head down every single time,” Martin said.
“After I see a couple pitches, I said this is the right moment, this is a good opportunity. The third baseman helped me a little bit in that decision, because he was far away from the base.”
Alcantara stepped off and threw to the plate, and although the ball arrived at the same time as Martin, the Cleveland runner’s hand knocked the ball away as he reached for home.
“We’re playing in the hole with the third baseman, over toward shortstop, and Victor’s got his little thing when he comes set where he looks down. I saw Leo way down the line, that’s why the pitch before I kind of faked like we were going to throw behind him,” Detroit catcher John Hicks said. “When Victor came set, I saw him take off. I was yelling with everything I have to step off. The ball got there right as he did and when I went to tag him, he knocked it out of my glove.”
The Indians led 4-2 after that play. Oliver Perez relieved Bieber and got the final out of the eighth, then Brad Hand finished for his 20th save in 20 chances.
Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected in the sixth. Bench coach Steve Liddle said there was a disagreement over the strike zone.
The first three Cleveland runs came in the fifth off reliever Nick Ramirez (3-1) on a misty, rainy day in which fielders seemed to have trouble with pop-ups and fly balls. Detroit’s Nicholas Castellanos allowed Jordan Luplow’s fly to deep right to drop for an RBI double, and Jose Ramirez’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0. Kevin Plawecki added an infield single to bring home another run.
Bieber struck out his last two batters of the fifth and all three in the sixth, but the Tigers loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh, and Brandon Dixon hit a two-run single. Bieber recovered to strike out Harold Castro, and Ronny Rodriguez bounced into an unusual 5-4-5 double play. Miguel Cabrera, who was on second, held up on the grounder to the left side, trying not to run into a tag. So Ramirez, the third baseman, threw to second for a force play, then took the return throw and tagged out Cabrera.
That got Bieber out of that jam.
“He got back in the strike zone,” manager Terry Francona said. “I thought our infielders … really with a heads-up double play.”
Umpire Mike Muchlinski handled second base Saturday, replacing Jim Wolf, who Major League Baseball said was out tending to a medical issue.
Soto better than so-so
The Tigers were hoping for two or three innings from starter Gregory Soto, but he made it through four without allowing a run. He did allow two hits and four walks with three strikeouts.
Detroit reinstated infielder Jeimer Candelario (left shoulder) from the injured list and optioned him to Triple-A Toledo.
Cleveland claimed right-handed pitcher Jordan Stephens off waivers from the Chicago White Sox and optioned him to Double-A Akron.
TIGERS: Right-handed pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (right elbow sprain) has been on a rehab assignment with Toledo, but he was in the Detroit clubhouse Saturday and expressed hope that his next start could be with the Tigers. Gardenhire sounded skeptical of that at first, but he changed his tune after checking some files on his desk. “Well, it’s a possibility,” he said. Gardenhire did say the Tigers don’t want to rush Zimmermann back, but he can obviously pitch again for Detroit when he’s healthy enough.
INDIANS: Trevor Bauer (4-6) starts the series finale today.
TIGERS: Spencer Turnbull (3-5) takes the mound as Detroit tries to avoid a three-game sweep.