Max Scherzer remained undefeated on the season, allowing one run over six innings as the Detroit Tigers knocked off the Minnesota Twins 6-1. Scherzer (7-0) allowed just three hits, striking out six to record his seventh win of 2013.
Twins starter Mike Pelfrey (4-4) took the loss. He was charged with five runs, allowing five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
The big hit of the game came off the bat of Avisail Garica, driving in three runs with a bases clearing triple in the sixth. Torii Hunter chipped in with a solo home run. Jamey Carroll drove home the lone Twins run with a fifth inning single.
The story of the day was Scherzer, who is closing in on ace territory with his performances this season. In his last start, Scherzer retired the final 22 batters he faced. How long would his hitless skein continue? For quite some time, as it turned out.
One down on the bottom of the first, Hunter wet to the opposite field, clubbing a line drive over the 365 mark in right field to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. The solo shot was hunter's second homer of the year, first since April 13, and number 299 for his illustrious career. (MLB.com video)
Making his first start since blowing away the last 22 Indians he faced last Tuesday, Scherzer's out streak reached 25 before he walked the first two batters he faced in the second. Scherzer looked as if he would get out of the jam, getting a one out double play ground ball off the bat of Eduardo Escobar. Omar Infante made a perfect feed to Ramon Santiago, but Santiago couldn't make the turn. Actually, he couldn't even make the catch, the throw somehow glancing off his glove for an E-6. Everyone was safe.
The inning now extended and the bases loaded, Scherzer bore down. Chris Parmelee sent a can of corn to center, Don Kelly making a nice throw to prevent Justin Morneau from tagging. Scherzer did the rest of the work himself, striking out Pedro Florimon looking to end the inning.
Protecting the 1-0 lead, Scherzer blew through an 11 pitch third, the Twins going down in order. Scherzer's streak of innings without allowing a hit was now at ten, the least seven versus the Tribe and the first three today.
Pelfrey got into a jam of his own making in the bottom hjalf of the third, issuing back-to-back free passes to Kelly and Santiago. But the threat died quickly. Andy Dirks bounced into a 4-6-3 double play and Hunter grounded out to third to end the inning.
Scherzer had not allowed a base hit since Asdrubal Cabrera singled with one out in the first inning against the Indians. The streak finally came to an end when Parmelee looped a single to left with two out in the fourth. Scherzer's hitless streak lasted 38 straight batters over two games.
In the fourth, Pelfrey walked the lead off man for the second straight inning. This time, he couldn't pitch around it, the Tigers extending their lead.
Pitching carefully to Miguel Cabrera, Pelfrey issued a lead off walk. Prince Fielder then lashed a two strike line drive into the left center field gap, Cabrera scoring all the way from first on the RBI double. (MLB.com video)
Martinez followed by drilling a line drive to deep center, Aaron Hicks running down. Smartly, Fielder knew Hicks would not be in position to make a quick throw, aggressively tagging up and advancing to third. Unfortunately, Alex Avila struck out and Infante flew out, standing Fielder.
Scherzer's scoreless streak finally came to an end as well in the fifth. Florimon doubted with one out and scored scored on Carroll's single to left, the Twins pulling to within a run at 2-1. Dirks made an ill-advised throw home, airmailing the cutoff man, allowing Carroll to move into scoring position. Carroll advanced to third on a passed ball as Josh Willingham walked with two down. Morneau would fly out to end the rally, but Scherzer's pitch count was at an uneconomical 97.
The score remaining 2-1, Drew Smyly and Luke Putkonen up in the pen, Scherzer retired the Twins in order in the sixth. His pitch count at 109, Scherzer's afternoon was likely over.
Bottom of six, the Tigers would threaten against Pelfrey. A base hit from an unexpected source would give the Tigers an insurance run, then a rookie would break the game wide open.
Cabrera singled with one out, Martinez did the same, singling Cabrera to second with two down. Which brought Avlia to the plate in midst of an ugly 0-17 slump. Avila didn't hit the ball hard, but did hit it in the right place. He dropped a Twins Hit bloop single just over Florimon's glove in short left, Cabrera scoring to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
The Texas leaguer ended Pelfrey's afternoon, Ron Gardenhire calling ex-Tiger Casey Fien out of the bullpen. He would walk Infante, loading the bases.
Gardenhire went back to the pen,bringing in leftty Caleb Thielbar. Say what you will about Leyland as an X's and O's manager, he smartly countered by pulling the light hitting Kelly. Garcia was called upon to pinch hit.
In the battle of strategy, put a check mark on Leyland's side of the ledger. Garcia smoked a 2-2 Thielbar breaking ball to deep left center, clearing the bases with his first career triple. (MLB.com video)
Thielbar would get the final out of the inning, but Garcia's huge two out pinch hit three bagger pushed the Tigers' lead to an all but insurmountable 6-1.
GAME (essentially) OVER.
The Tigers having takien a comfortable lead, Scherzer's day was officially done. Putkonen started the bottom of the seventh for the Tigers. Putkonen would sandwich a Florimon walk around two outs. With Florimon on second and Maurer due up, Leyland wanted a lefty-lefty matchup, and called for Drew Smyly out of the pen. Smyly needed two pitches to end the inning, Maurer flying out.
The game quickly played out by the numbers from that point. Neither team did a thing offensively, looking to get an early start on the Memorial Day holiday.
Smyly ended the game for the Tigers by pitching the final 2 1/3 innings. The only base runner he allowed was a one out walk to Escobar in the ninth. But there would be no dramatics with Smyly on the mound, He would close out the afternoon from there, striking out Aaron Hicks and Florimon bouncing out.
Though a win had all but been in the bag since Garcia gave the Tigers a five run lead, GAME (officially) OVER. Your final score is Tigers 6, Twinkies 1.
The Tigers take 3-of-4 from the Twins on the weekend (and 5-of-6), raising their record to 28-20. They remain in first place in the AL Central, their lead over the Indians now a full game (The Red Sox won in walk off fashion over the Tribe, scoring four in the bottom of the ninth). Having nose-dived to the bottom of the standings by losing 11-of-12, the last place Twins are eight games back of the Tigers at 19-28.
Memorial Day brings the Pittsburgh Pirates into town for a short two game series. These are no longer the sad sack Pirates, who may only be in thirds place in the NL, but are currently playing over .600 ball. A resurgent Francisco Liriano (3-0, 1.00 ERA) take the mound for the Pirates. He'll face Justin Verlander (5-4, 3.66 ERA), who is looking to bounce back from three consecutive sub par starts. First pitch is 1:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
Torii Hunter's first inning home run snapped a 22 game homerless streak, his longest in 13 seasons and third longest of his career.
Max Scherzer's consecutive out streak ended int he second inning at 25 straight (22 Indians, three Twins). He ended up four short of the season high of 29, set by Shelby Lewis of the Cardinals.
The numbers on Scherzer's hitless streak: Scherzer ultimately went 38 batters in a row without allowing a hit over two games. In that stretch, he retired 25 straight, walked three, allowed a run on a sacrifice fly and the Tigers committed one error.
Does it seem like everything Joe Mauer hits, drops? It damn near is...
Crazy stat: Joe Mauer has a .443 batting average on balls in play. No other AL hitter is above .400 and Mauer's career mark is .349.— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) May 26, 2013
You walk Miguel Cabrera at your peril.
Cabrera walk means one thing - Prince RBI. 6-6 with 8 RBIs after the last six walks.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) May 26, 2013
Miguel Cabrera's seventh inning single extended his hitting streak to 12 games. With just three hits in the last three games of the series, Cabrera is only hitting .385.
Scherzer is off to an amazing start to the season.
Max Scherzer: 2nd Tigers pitcher to start 7-0 or better in last 25 years (Jeremy Bonderman - 2007)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 26, 2013
Max Scherzer: Not quite as brilliant he was was against the Tribe, but was excellent all the same. Scherzer was nails, holding the Twinkies to three hits.
Avisail Garcia: His bases clearing pinch hit triple changed the tone of the game from possible nail biter to Potato-proof. Now how about playing the kid a little more often, huh? Jim? You listening?
Drew Smyly: Another lights out performance out of the pen for the young left-hander. Smyly tossed 2 1/3 shutout innings, walking one, striking out three.
Alex Avila: Did have an RBI single of the Twins Hit variety. But Avila also struck out three times, his average well below the Mendoza Line at .171. It feels as if he hasn't hit a ball hard in weeks.
Ramon Santiago: Received a rare start, then proceeded to butcher a the turn on a possible double play in the second, extending the inning. Santiago was 0-for-2, now hitting .143 on the season.
The Minnesota Twins: A despicable group.
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