It was a game the Tigers controlled pretty much from the beginning, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning. After struggling to pitch throughout most of the series with the Texas Rangers, it was a welcome sight, seeing the Tigers jumping out to a lead early and having the pitching hold it. Scherzer kept the Rays hitters baffled as he worked six innings of four hit, two run baseball. Perhaps more impressive than his low hit and run totals though, was his strikeout to walk ratio, 7/2.
The Tigers’ number three starter has had a problem with consistency throughout his career, but over his last few starts he has turned in impressive performances. Scherzer has consistently attacked the strike zone and used his best pitches to help him carve up opponents and put his team in position to win. He would be on a winning streak now, if it wasn’t for the lack of offense in last weekend’s series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Offense wasn’t a problem Thursday though, as the Tigers amassed a gaudy 15-hits, yet only scored five runs. Despite not driving in as many runners as they probably wish they had, Detroit was a respectable 5-13 with runners in scoring position, a situation they haven’t cashed in on for most of the year
Leading the way was Miguel Cabrera, who had four hits, plated two runners and even scored once himself. Perhaps the biggest run and RBI he had was in the ninth, when he crushed a ball over right center field to give Detroit a nice three run cushion.
It was the top five in the order who jump started the offense all night and kept in running through most of the game. Austin Jackson, Quintin Berry, Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Delmon Young combined for 11 hits and four of the five RBIs. While the bottom of the order continues to struggle, it was nice to see Alex Avila add another extra base hit to his record.
The bullpen held strong for Scherzer and the Tigers despite a few scary moments. Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde pitched three innings of scoreless baseball. Of the three, Coke had the most trouble surrendering a hit and a walk, but didn’t concede a run.
The win moves the Tigers back to two games below .500 with an opportunity, providing they don’t sweep the Rays, to pull even with the mark on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins.
Tigers’ MVP: It has got to be Miguel Cabrera. The man is just unstoppable it seams. He was 4-5, crushed a ball in the ninth for some insurance and would have been a perfect 5-5 if it wasn’t for a great defensive play by Tampa. He seems to be heating up again at just the right time.
Tigers Goat: Poor Ramon Santiago, he just couldn’t do anything at the plate on Thursday. He played a fine second base, but the 0-4, while leaving three runners on is just kind of sad, especially when none of his hits even came close to threatening.