CLEVELAND – When he got back to Detroit’s dugout, Andy Ibañez slapped on the team’s celebratory Red Wings hockey helmet for the first time.
The fit looked good.
Just as Ibañez appears to be for the Tigers.
Ibañez sparked Detroit's offense by homering and scoring three runs, and Joey Wentz shrugged off giving up a couple quick hits for his first win, leading the Tigers to a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Guardians on Monday night.
Ibañez, signed in the offseason after two seasons with Texas, homered in the fifth inning — on reliever Eli Morgan's first pitch — and Riley Greene drove in two runs as the Tigers won for the sixth time in seven games.
Ibañez got off to a slow start, going 0 for 10 in his first four games with Detroit. But he's batting .529 (9 for 17) while hitting in six straight games.
“He’s playing every day and he’s contributing, which is nice," Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “Everyone has embraced him. I know the first 10 at-bats weren’t great, but I applaud him for staying in there mentally, and physically he’s had really good at-bats. Really sparked us.”
Ibañez laughed when asked about swapping his batting helmet for the hockey head gear and parading through the dugout.
“I never played hockey,” he said.
Wentz (1-3) allowed a double and single to start the game. The left-hander then retired 13 of 14 before giving up a pair of walks in the sixth. He got two outs and was pulled for Will Vest, who worked out of the jam.
Detroit's bullpen did its job from there with Jason Foley, Chasen Shreve and Alex Lange completing the combined six-hitter.
José Ramírez homered for Cleveland — only the 19th for the club this season — as the Guardians continued to scuffle offensively. The defending AL Central champions have scored two runs or fewer in five of eight games, and three or less in 22 of 35.
Manager Terry Francona was asked if he feels growing frustration from his players.
“I don’t think we're supposed to be having a party when we’re not scoring,” he said. “I don’t think anybody feels like that. But they’re getting after it.”
The Tigers built a 4-1 lead in four innings against rookie Tanner Bibee (1-1), who had been so impressive in his first two starts, working into the sixth both times.
Detroit tagged Bibee for three runs and five hits in the third inning, which could have been a lot worse for the right-hander.
Zach McKinstry and Javier Báez hit RBI singles before Nick Maton's run-scoring double made it 3-1 with just one out. However, after walking the bases loaded, Bibee got Akil Baddoo to pop up and retired Miguel Cabrera on a groundout.
Bibee didn't survive the fourth, getting pulled after giving up Greene's RBI double.
“It was just one of those days, honestly.” Bibee said. “I don’t think right now there’s nothing I can put to it.”
Guardians second baseman Andrés Giménez made a pair of smooth plays in the first two innings.
Ranging to his right in the first to backhand Greene's grounder, Giménez, who won a Gold Glove last season, flicked the ball from his glove, rolling it to shortstop Amed Rosario to force McKinstry at second.
In the second, Giménez was covering second when catcher Mike Zunino's throw hit Tigers left fielder Baddoo as he slid into the base. Giménez snagged the ricochet off Baddoo's mid-section and in one motion applied the tag.
Francona proudly pointed out he once got two hits off Vida Blue, the hard-throwing left-hander who died this weekend at 73.
When he was in fifth grade, Francona's school project was to write a letter to a company and get a response. He chose the Oakland Athletics.
“I got Blue Moon Odom, Vida Blue and Catfish Hunter to send me picture postcards,” he said. “That's like the only time I ever got an A.”
Francona also graded out well against Blue, but noted that he faced him late in the pitcher's career. Nonetheless, he's still happy to have success against Blue on his resume.
“It's a cool name,” he said.
Tigers: Manager A.J. Hinch said the team would provide a medical update Tuesday on OF Kerry Carpenter (right shoulder sprain), who got hurt when he crashed into the wall while taking a home run away from Baltimore's Ryan Mountcastle on April 27. Hinch would not say if Carpenter began a hitting program on the weekend as had been expected.
Guardians: Injured starters Aaron Civale (oblique strain) and Triston McKenzie (shoulder strain) are scheduled to throw bullpen sessions Tuesday in Goodyear, Arizona, as they continue their rehab programs.
Guardians RHP Shane Bieber (2-1, 2.96 ERA), 8-4 in his career against Detroit, starts the middle game of the series against Tigers RHP Michael Lorenzen (1-1, 5.14).