Max Scherzer hit the 75-pitch mark in the third inning Thursday and was at 100 by the fifth. But with the Tigers in danger of being swept in a four-game set in Boston — and with the heavy-hitting Yankees coming to Detroit starting Friday — Detroit’s fireballing starter fought his way through 117 pitches and six-plus innings.
That effort, which included Scherzer retiring nine straight batters from the fourth through six innings, gave Detroit enough of a boost to pull out a 7-3 win.
Scherzer hit the wall in the seventh when he walked Nick Punto to lead things off with Detroit nursing a 4-3 lead. But Phil Coke came out of the bullpen to retire Scott Podsednik, Daniel Nava and Adrian Gonzalez in order. Then, after a Delmon Young homer made it 5-3, Coke got David Ortiz to open the eighth.
Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde slammed the door, combining to retire the last five Red Sox in order.
The Tigers’ offense aided the cause too, bombing 14 hits off Josh Beckett and the Boston bullpen. Quintin Berry again set the table, going 3-for-5 with two runs, an RBI and two stolen bases. He brought home Detroit’s first run in the third inning with an RBI single, which hacked a Boston lead to 2-1. Brennan Boesch and Prince Fielder followed with RBI of their own in the inning to get Detroit a 3-2 edge.
Boston answered in the bottom of the third with a run, but Berry went to work again in the fifth. After leading off with a bunt single, Berry stole second base and moved to third when Jared Saltalamacchia’s throw bounced into the outfield. Miguel Cabrera scored Berry on a single moments later.
Young’s homer made it 5-3, and the Tigers tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth — Fielder tripled home Cabrera, then Young singled to score Fielder.
Tigers’ MVP: Scherzer. Berry certainly deserves his fair share of praise for yet another impressive outing, but the Tigers badly needed a starter to step up and carry them. Scherzer got the job done, mostly saving the bullpen for Friday, when rookie Casey Crosby will make his MLB debut against the Yankees.
Tigers’ Goat: Jhonny Peralta. An 0-for-3 night (plus a walk) dropped Peralta to .239 on the season. The Tigers need Peralta to rediscover some of the form he had at the plate last year, but he just cannot get it going.
What’s Next: After a 4-6 road trip, the Tigers come home for six more tough games. First up is a three-game set with the Yankees starting Friday, then three with the Indians next week. It’ll be Crosby vs. C.C. Sabathia in Friday night’s opener, followed by Rick Porcello vs. Hiroki Kuroda on Saturday afternoon, and a Justin Verlander-Phil Hughes matchup in the finale.