DETROIT -- Justin Verlander got Detroit back on track, but the problem the Tigers face is staying on the rails until their ace can pitch again Sunday.
Verlander blanked Cleveland on four hits over 7 2/3 innings Tuesday night and Miguel Cabrera drove in five runs to surpass 100 RBIs for the 12th time and lead the Tigers to a 12-0 win over the Indians and their patchwork lineup.
The win pulled Detroit to within one game of Baltimore for the second American League wild-card spot with five games to play.
"Right now," manager Brad Ausmus of Detroit said, "if it comes down to the last game, we do have a guy in Verlander that's experienced it before.
"But between now and the next time Verlander pitches we're going to need some young guys to either harness the energy or the emotion that's involved in these games or find a way to block it out."
The fourth single allowed by Verlander (16-8) and third by Erik Gonzalez ended the right-hander's night after 110 pitches. He struck out 12 and walked one. It was the eighth time this year Verlander has recorded double-digit strikeouts and 37th time in his career.
Kyle Ryan got the last four outs for Detroit to complete the shutout.
"I thought he was pretty good. He's been pretty good," manager Terry Francona of Cleveland said. "Like Cory Kluber, every five days he goes out there. He's been one of the best for a long time, because he can hold his stuff like he does, it's pretty amazing."
Cabrera got his five RBIs with a two-run double in the first and a three-run home run in the second, his 35th of the season.
Justin Upton added a three-run homer in the seventh and Andrew Romine hit a two-run shot for the Tigers in the eighth.
Cabrera's five RBI put him at 102. Eight of his 12 100-RBI seasons in his 14-year career have come with the Tigers, tying him with Harry Heilmann for most in franchise history.
(Cabrera and Verlander), that's why they get paid the big bucks," Ausmus said, tongue in cheek. (Verlander) "has been outstanding. I'm tired of talking about how good he's been. If you're not sure how good he's been, just watch him."
Ian Kinsler hit an RBI single to make it 6-0 in the fourth as Detroit beat Cleveland for only the third time in 17 tries this season.
Upton hit a hanging slider deep into the left field seats near the foul pole with two on in the seventh, his 29th home run of the season, to hike Detroit's lead to 9-0. Tyler Collins delivered a pinch-hit RBI triple in the eighth and Romine followed with his second home run of the season.
Cabrera's five RBIs came at the expense of Mike Clevinger (2-3), who gave up seven hits in two innings.
"I think after 155 games," Francona explained pre-game, "with what they accomplished, they needed a night where they could watch and enjoy. Then they'll be right back in there.
"In trying to weigh everything, it's good for them to have a day (off). These guys have played a lot."
The Indians learned during the game that Kluber had a right quad strain and would be out 7-10 days.
"I don't know about best case," Francona said, "but it's a heckuva lot better than it could have been. I think we were hopeful that he'd be okay. But again, when a guy's out there competing, you don't know how much they're really hurting.
"But this will give him a chance to hopefully have a bullpen session or two. Hopefully, maybe it'll even help him. It's certainly not bad news."
NOTES: Manager Terry Francona trotted out his 'Z' lineup Tuesday night after his team clinched the American League Central and celebrated the night before. The most prominent regular was DH Carlos Santana and "that's only because we ran out of guys," Francona said. At third was C Chris Gimenez and "I'm not thrilled about that," he said. ... Detroit 3B Nick Castellanos, activated off the disabled list, arrived from Florida in the seventh inning and manager Brad Ausmus sent him up to pinch-hit in the eighth. Castellanos doubled and stayed in to play third. He could start Wednesday. ... RHP Cory Kluber went to Cleveland for examination of his strained right groin, with Francona optimistic because his ace said it wasn't worse than Monday night. ... Francona shuffled his rotation, pushing RHP Trevor Bauer back from Wednesday to Saturday. RHP Zach McAllister starts Wednesday, LHP Ryan Merritt on Thursday, RHP Josh Tomlin either Friday or Sunday and RHP Adam Plutko going on the other day.