The Detroit Tigers salvaged a split of their four-game series with the Chicago White Sox with a 7-4 win. Miguel Cabrera and Rajai Davis carried Max Scherzer and the Tigers to the victory, combining for five hits and five RBIs.
The Tigers finished their first extended home stand of the season a somewhat disappointing 5-4. But they remain in first place in the AL Central at 11-8. They head to Minnesota to take on the second place 11-10 Twins for a weekend series.
Scherzer (2-1) tossed a strong six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, walking just one while tying his season high with ten strikeouts. The Tigers bullpen had their troubles for a second straight game, Joba Chamberlain charged with two runs in the eighth inning. But Joe Nathan (with help of a rare, game ending strikeout-catcher interference call) shut the ninth inning door to record his fourth save.
Jose Quintana was tagged with the loss, giving up three runs on seven hits in six innings. But I'm sure White Sox fans are pointing fingers at the bullpen, which was far worse than Detroit's today. Maikel Cleto and Daniel Webb pitched the final two innings, combining to serve up six hits and four runs. We tend to forget numerous teams have bullpen issues.
Cabrera's bat has risen. With two hits and three RBIs today, Cabrera was 6-for-13 with six RBIs over the final three games of the series. Davis had a huge afternoon with three hits, one a home run, two RBIs and a run scored. Nick Castellanos and Bryan Holaday each added two hits and an RBI.
Adam Dunn is known for the three true outcomes: walk, strikeout or home run. Top of the second, Dunn had a true outcome against Max Scherzer. The Tigers' starter caught too much of the plate with a fastball, Dunn depositing the pitch well over the 365' mark in right center. Dunn's second home run of the series and fifth of the season gave the White Sox a 1-0 lead.
Jose Quintana retired the first five Tigers he faced. Austin Jackson and Nick Castellanos ended the out streak, knotting the game in the process. With two down, Jackson lashed a line drive to right center. Dayan Viciedo was unable to cut the ball off, allowing the liner to roll to the scoreboard, a.k.a. triple territory.
The Tigers' most impressive rookie position player in some time came through with two out and a runner in scoring position, Castellanos looping a single to center to tie things up at 1-all (MLB.com video).
Detroit liked two-out rallies so much, they did it again. Ian Kinsler, as he has been all season, was the trigger man. Kinsler singled with two out, advancing to second on Qunitana's wild pitch. Miguel Cabrera then did what Miguel Cabrera does -- hit the ball. He beat the White Sox's silly shift by slapping a breaking ball through the right side for an RBI single and a 2-1 lead.
Viciedo has had a monster series, 6-for-12 in the first three games. His hot hitting continued with a fourth-inning double, giving the White Sox a scoring opportunity with one out. Preferring to face the right-handed Gordon Beckham, Scherzer pitched around the left-handed Alejandro De Aza, despite his .174 average. The move worked out nicely, Beckham becoming Scherzer's seventh K victim of the day.
Top of five, Scherzer found himself in one-out trouble thanks to singles by Tyler Flowers and Jordan Danks. Trouble was erased when the dangerous Jose Abreu went down looking, and Dunn hit a comebacker to Scherzer.
Scherzer had himself nine whiffs, but also had an elevated pitch count after five.
Scherzer's at 94 pitches. There will be bullpen.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 24, 2014
The Tigers used the long ball to extend their lead, though it came from an unexpected source. Instead of sprinting, Rajai Davis got to jog around the bases when he launched Quintana's 3-2 fastball over the left field fence.
So much for the two-run cushion. Top of six, Viciedo got a gift triple when Torii Hunter lost his can of corn in the sun. To Viciedo's credit, he ran hard out of the box and was able to reach third standing up while a frustrated Hunter got the ball back into the infield.
Alexei Ramirez's sacrifice fly pulled the White Sox within a run at 3-2. Worse for the Tigers, Scherzer wrapped up the sixth inning with a pitch count of 110.
Hard to watch a once great defensive outfielder become mortal. No matter what Torii Hunter believes, Father Time will always win in the end.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 24, 2014
After six solid innings from Scherzer, Al Alburquerque got the seventh-inning call. (INHALES) He allowed a lead-off single to Flowers, but sat down the next three White Sox in order, ending the inning by retiring the powerful Abreu on a fly ball to center. (EXHALES)
Today's Al-Al ratio: 16 sliders, 2 fastballs.— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) April 24, 2014
Maikel Cleto took over for Quintana, facing the bottom of the Tigers order in the seventh. He immediately got into trouble. Bryan Holaday reached with a one-out infield single, advancing to second on a wild pitch. Cleto compounded matters by walking the number-nine hitter, Danny Worth.
Davis made a bid for an RBI with a ground ball into the hole, but Ramirez made a diving stop, saving a run.
The bases were juiced for Ian Kinsler, who proceeded to have an awful at-bat. He swung at Cleto's first pitch, popping it up for the second out. Robin Ventura made a pitching change, bring on right-hander Daniel Webb.
Despite rumors to the contrary, it turns out Miguel Cabrera wasn't irreparably broken. In a huge at-bat, Cabrera slapped a two-out single back up the middle, giving the Tigers a pair of insurance runs (MLB.com video).
Up 5-2, Joba Chamberlain was in eighth-inning setup duty. But the Tigers' bullpen had more drama than a night of network TV.
Dunn led off with a double. Viciedo reached base for the third time with a single. Ramirez made it 5-3 with an RBI single.
Kinsler saved a run with a diving stop of De Aza's ground ball, but couldn't gather himself quickly enough to start a double play. The Tigers had to settle for the force at second. Runners on the corners, De Aza took for second. Holaday's throw was, to put it mildly, not good. It was well off-line, skipping into center, allowing Viciedo to score.
Chamberlain was able to avoid further trouble, keeping the torches and pitchforks at bay. A Beckham ground ball and Flowers strikeout (lucky 13 for the Tigers) ended a scary inning. After Chamberlain's high-wire act, the Tigers were still clinging to a 5-4 lead.
Despite the adversity, the Tigers were determined to give Joe Nathan a larger safety net. Jackson, who has been no less than marvelous this season, worked a one-out walk. Castellanos, who is proving the Tigers correct in deeming him major-league ready, singled to center on the hit and run, Jackson cruising into third.
Holaday made up for his awful throw in the previous half inning, getting the run back with his bat. A line single to to center gave Holaday his first RBI of the season and the Tigers a 6-4 lead (MLB.com video).
Davis was a concern coming into the season, forced to play full-time due to Andy Dirk's injury. He continued to defy his L/R career splits, ripping a line drive over the head of De Aza in left. Castellanos raced home on the RBI double, increasing the Tigers' lead to 7-4 (MLB.com video).
Webb would strike out Kinsler, ending a big, big inning for the Tigers. Thanks to three hits and a walk, they rallied to regain the two runs given up in the previous half inning.
Nathan entered the game in what was still a save situation. After walking Marcus Semien with one out, the afternoon came to an anti-climatic end on a catcher's interference call. Semien took off for second as Abreu was striking out on the tenth pitch of his at-bat. Semien beat the throw, but home plate umpire Dan Iassogna correctly nabbed Abreu for interference, having stepped directly in front of Holaday as he uncorked his throw to second.
GAME OVER! Your final score is Tigers 7, White Sox 4. The happy totals include 14 strikeouts for Tigers' pitching and and 13 hits for the bats.
Thankfully, there would be no Alex Avila controversy today!
And Avila swung at exactly zero 3-0 pitches today. Which is good or bad, depending on how much you were drinking last night.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 24, 2014
The Tigers now hit the road to start a 10-day, eight-game road trip with three games against the Twins. Rick Porcello (2-1, 3.15 ERA) toes the rubber for the Tigers, right-hander Kevin Correia (0-2, 5.47 ERA) mans the slab for the Twinkies.
In four starts Correia either been solid or bad, no in-between. In his last start, Correia was rocked by the Royals for all of their five runs (four earned) in a 5-4 loss, serving up nine hits and two walks with two strikeouts over six innings.
Porcello got a measure of revenge over the Angels in his last outing, allowing just one run and five hits in seven excellent innings.
Friday's first pitch at the not-Metrodome, otherwise known as Target Field, is scheduled for 8:10 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
The silly Jim Leyland haters haven't had anything to bitch about this season ... until now:
#Tigers will honor former manager Jim Leyland in a pregame ceremony on Saturday, May 10. He'll throw out 1st pitch before game vs. Twins— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) April 24, 2014
Playing out of an early hole is never easy for an offense. The White Sox took an early lead for the third straight game thanks to the long ball. Jose Abreu had first-inning home runs on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Adam Dunn went deep in the second today.
Max Scherzer has joined the same club Mickey Lolich established in 1970.
With 7 K's in today's game, Scherzer is just the 2nd pitcher in #Tigers history w/ at least 7 K's in each of his 1st 5 starts in a season.— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) April 24, 2014
With ten strikeouts, it was the 20th time in Scherzer's career he has recorded double-digit whiffs in a game.
There was some ninth-inning commotion that had nothing to do with baseball. If you were watching or listening, boos were raining down from the stands, though little was happening on the field. Turns out hockey was involved.
If you were wondering what all the booing was for >>> RT @Stareagle Fans booing a guy in a Bruins jersey seated down the rightfield line.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) April 24, 2014
The Red Wings take on the Boston Bruin in game three of their playoff series. Check out our SBN sister blog Winging it in Motown for all things NHL and Red Wings.
Max Scherzer: Allowed two runs over six innings to get the W. Scherzer had an elevated pitch count, but that can happen when you strike out 10.
Rajai Davis: It won't last, but right now Davis is raking. A three-hit day has Davis at .328/.400/.459 on the season.
Miguel Cabrera: Really was the difference in the game, coming through with RBI singles twice with runners in scoring position and two out. Hitting .206 earlier in the week, Cabrera is now up to .250.
Austin Jackson: Reached base twice with a triple and walk, scoring a pair of runs. Jackson is hitting the cover off the ball to the tune of .311/.387..541. Life as a middle-of-the-order hitter agrees with him.
Joba Chamberlain: Admittedly, he wasn't helped much by his defense. But Chamberlain was charged with two earned runs in his one inning of work, pouring more fuel on the bullpen fire.
TOP TEN COMMENTERS:
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GAME 18 PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Drew Smyly got off to a slow start, then settled in nicely to hold to the White Sox to just two runs over seven innings. Smyly was smiling after taking PotG with 54% of the vote. Side note, I made a crack on Twitter blaming Mario Impemba picking Smyly as FSD's PotG for the rough first inning. Mario made sure to rub it in after the game!