Max Scherzer won his league leading 11th game of the season as the Detroit Tigers rolled to a 10-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox. Scherzer is the first starting pitcher in Detroit franchise history to begin a season 11-0 and first in MLB since Roger Clemens in 1997. 104 years ago, George Mullin started the 1909 season 11-0 for the Tigers, but one win was in relief.
Scherzer (11-0) tossed seven innings, nicked for two first inning runs, allowing six hits. With six strikeouts, Scherzer became the first MLB pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 1999 to have 15 consecutive games of six or more.
Losing pitcher Allen Webster (0-2), making his first career start on the road, lasted only 4 1/3 innings. Webster gave up five runs on eight hits, walking two. Red Sox reliever Franklin Morales allowed the game to get out of hand, surrendering four runs in 2 1/3 innings of work.
Victor Martinez was the offensive star of the night, hitting a first inning grand slam, reaching base four times and driving in five runs. Omar Infante went yard as well with a two run homer, while Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter and Andy Dirks all had three hits.
David Ortiz homered for the Red Sox, Jose Iglesias adding two hits and an RBI.
But the night belonged to Max Scherzer, who has blossomed into an elite starting pitcher in 2013. Scherzer is at the point where he's making franchise history with every start.
Going for win number 11 on the season, Scherzer started the night slowly. He suffered the same afflictions as Doug Fister on Friday. The top of the order, paper cuts and the home run. A lead off bloop single led to a Red Sox two run first inning rally which was capped by a blg fly.
Jacoby Ellsbury flipped a Texas League single into short left. Coming off a big game on Friday, Shane Victorino remained hot, singling through the hole vacated by Prince Fielder, who was attempting to hold Ellsbury close to the bag. Scherzer emptied the bases thanks to a pitcher's best buddy, the double play. Ellsbury scored when Dustin Pedroia bounced into a 4-6-3 twin killing, the Tigers happy to trade a run for two outs and the bases empty.
Good thing the double play cleared the bases, as Ortiz took Scherzer's 94 MPH fastball DEEP into the right field seats. The no-doubt solo shot, number 16 on the season for Big Papi, made it 2-0 Red Sox.
Just like his counterpart on the Tigers, Webster pitched himself into a first inning jam. Webster one-upped Scherzer by loading the bases with no one out. He would up the ante further, coughing up the lead.
Jackson and Hunter led off with back-to-back singles. Pitching too carefully (if there is such a thing) to Cabrera, Webster issued the AL's leading hitter a four pitch walk, loading the bases for the slumping Fielder.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia twice saved a run, blocking Webster pitches which bounced in front of the plate. The count full, Fielder swung and missed at a sinking fastball for the first out. Fielder was hacking, swinging and missing at couple of pitches out of the strike zone.
One down, it was up to Martinez to pick up Fielder. He did so, and then some. Down 0-1, Martinez channled his 2011 self by smoking a thigh-high fastball on a line over the 365 mark in right field. Home run number six on the season for Martinez (the third grand slam of his career) gave the Tigers their first lead since Thursday night at 4-2.
Webster allowed a single to Andy Dirks before finally ending the inning on his 32nd pitch of the inning, striking out Infante. The Red Sox had made Scherzer work. But to the Tigers' credit, they made Webster work even harder.
A much sharper Scherzer retired the Red Sox in order in the second. The Tigers had two hits in the bottom half of the inning, but singles by Brayan Pena and Hunter had Jackson's 6-4-3 double play sandwiched in-between. With Cabrera at the plate, the Tigers ran themselves out of the inning when Hunter was caught stealing (though replays showed, as one would expect with the current awful state of MLB, Hunter was safe).
Scherzer had retired nine straight until Mike Carp reached on a swinging bunt single. Rather than just eat the ball, Scherzer compounded matters by not picking Carp's dribbler cleanly, then wildly firing into right field for a two base throwing error. Scherzer was able to pitch out of the two out jam of his own making, stranding Carp on Daniel Nava's can of corn to left.
The Tigers pushed their lead to 5-2 in the fifth, thanks to Dirks and Jackson. Dirks led off the inning with his second single of the game, stole second, then scored on Jackson's two out single to center. Love those two out RBIs!
The Red Sox ran themselves out of the of the fifth in a far more embarrassing fashion than the Tigers in second. With two out, Iglesias dropped a flair just inside the left field line. It could have been a double, would have been a double, but Iglesias stumbled while going for the head first slide into second. Instead, he landed well on the left field side of the bag. He was easily tagged out to end the inning, Hunter getting one of the easier assists of his career, Iglesias well on his way to a blooper reel.
Webster retired the lead off man in the fifth, Cabrera. At that point, Red Sox manager John Farrell Webster had done enough for one night, giving him the hook after 4 1/3 innings. Farrell signaled for the lefty, Morales.He would have been better served leaving Webster in the game.
Morales walked the first batter he faced, Fielder. Falling behind in the count 2-0, Morales served up a high fastball to Martinez, which he ripped into the left field corner. Nava took his time corralling the ball as it bounced around in left, allowing Fielder to score from first without drawing a throw. Peralta made it a 7-2 game with a line single to left, plating Martinez.
The top of the Red Sox order bit Scherzer in the sixth, Ellsbury slapping an outside breaking ball inside third, legging out a lead off double. Scherzer was masterful in pitching out of trouble. He struck out Victorino. Pedroia flew out to short right. Scherzer then let his defense do the work. Ortiz clubbed a full count fastball to deep left center, but Jackson made a marvelous catch, running the fly ball down on the warning track by the flag pole (everyone say, "OH JACKSON!"). Ortiz had gotten a dose of the same medicine Fielder received in the first two games of the series. There are places where it's damn hard to hit a ball out of Comerica. Ortiz found one.
Scherzer was well on his way to keeping his winning streak alive, but another streak was in jeopardy. He entered the seventh with just four punch outs. Scherzer was two strikeouts away from trying Pedro Martinez's 1999 streak of 15 straight games of six or more and was likely in his final inning of work. Nava went downs swinging for the first out, and Saltalamacchia looked at strike three to end the inning, keeping the streak alive.
Scherzer was congratulated by being given the "Handshake of doom" by Jim Leyland. It was game over for Mad Max.
The Tigers continued to punish Morales, who remained on the mound into the seventh. Martinez reached base for the fourth consecutive at bat, drawing a lead off walk. He would trot home when Infante found the bullpen in left for a two out, two run homer. Infante's fifth home run of the season gave the Tigers an insurmountable (it damn well better be) 9-2 lead.
As Leyland is wont to do, after an iffy outing on Friday, he went right back to Al Alburquerque tonight. Alburquerque did what he does, allowing the first two batters to reach. He walked lead off man Stephen Drew, then a single to Iglesias (who kept his footing this time). Alburquerque also did what he does, retiring the the next three batters in order, including a strikeout of Victorino.
Live with the slider, die with the slider. Alburquerque died with Mr. Snappy last night, but lived well tonight.
The game essentially having been over for several innings, it was just a matter of time before the Tigers celebrated a win. Regardless, the Tigers tacked on their tenth run in the bottom of the eighth.
They loaded the bases with no one out on singles by Jackson and Hunter, and a walk of Cabrera. Fielder then hit into a double play, Jackson scoring to put the Tigers up 10-2. Martinez made a bid for his sixth RBI, but came up a few feet short of his second big fly. Nava made a nice running catch on the left field warning track to end the inning.
Putkonen got some work in, pitching the ninth. With help of a blown double play, the Red Sox scored a garbage time run on an RBI single off the bat of Saltalamacchia. Given another shot at turning a double play, the Tigers ended the game with a 4-6-3 twin killing.
Your final score is Tigers 10, Red Sox 3. Max Scherzer set two milestones, starting the season 11-0 and 15th straight game with six plus strikeouts.
What is there to say about a game like tonight's? I'm sure Red Sox fans are taking the loss as we did last night's, it was just one of those games. Scherzer was Scherzer, receiving his typical run support. When that happens, no one has a chance, not even the Red Sox.
The victory pushes the Tigers' lead to (temporarily) 3 1/2 games over the Indians, who lead the Twins late as this post goes live. The Tigers move to 41-32 on the season, and will be looking to get back to their season high water mark of ten games over .500 if they can complete a series win on Sunday.
The series finale features Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront (4-3, 4.38 ERA) taking on Tigers' ace (well, sometimes, as of late) Justin Verlander (8-5, 3.72 ERA). Droubront is coming off a career best start, allowing just three hits while shutting out the Rays over eight innings. Verlander looked to have turned things around until his last start, allowing five runs in five innings in a loss to the Orioles. First pitch is 1:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
FOX had Sports Illustrated baseball writer Tom Verducci as the color man beside play-by-play man Kenny Albert. It was refreshing to see someone other than an ex-player doing the color on a two-man broadcasting crew. To be honest, anyone would be a massive step up over Bert Blyleven, who was the color man the last time the Tigers were on FOX's Saturday night baseball.
Victor Martinez had not had a hit this season with the bases loaded, 0-for-8 with two RBI coming and a pair of sacrifice flies. Make Martinez 1-for-9 with six RBIs thanks to his first inning grand slam.
The FOX stat of the game turned out to be a good omen: The Tigers are 20-3 when Martinez has an RBI. Make it 21-3, thank you.
The looooong first inning numbers: It took 27 minutes to get six outs on 53 pitches thrown There were six runs scored, seven hits, two home runs, a walk, a double play and four strike outs. It was damn near an evening's worth of offense.
Another game, another blown call. Torii Hunter was called out stealing in the second by Scott Barry. Via the game thread, Dan Dickerson had this to say about it on the radio call:
"We’ve seen about 19 replays of Torii Hunter sliding into second… and he’s been safe on every one of ’em."
Justin Verlander (whom Kenny Albert called "the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young," forgetting about a certain Triple Crown winner and David Price) and his giant bobblehead doppleganger made a fourth inning appearance.
As for "reigning?"
I'm told this is needed for the broadcast tonight. Just trying to be helpful. pic.twitter.com/5h3uU9l5bi— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) June 23, 2013
For the second time in two games, Shane Victorino tried to throw out Miguel Cabrera at first from right field. Cabrera inside-outed a single to right in the sixth, Victorino coming up firing, forcing Cabrera hustle to first, beating the throw by a step. Apparently laughs were had all around.
Victorino making Miggy earn those singles to RF! #funnystuff— Rod Allen (@RodAllen12) June 23, 2013
Meanwhile, at the house of Rod Allen's neighbor from the Ace Hardware commercials:
Watching Rod tweet about game while I look out my window at his rampant, unchecked weeds.— Rod Allen's Neighbor (@RodsNeighbor) June 23, 2013
The fans enjoying a big lead, there was beach ball sighting in the seventh:
Gold Glove beach baller http://t.co/vpwW1aqFtC— Bryan Craves (@DisplacedTgrFan) June 23, 2013
David Ortiz singled in the ninth, and to get back in a fun way over Victorino's antics, Hunter deked a throw to first. Laughs were had all around, like at the end of a cheesy 70's sitcom.
Verducci on Saltalamacchia:
Imagine typing that for 162 games?
Uh, three words. Alburquerque and Tuiasosopo. I'll even throw in Putkonen for good measure!
Max Scherzer: Another marvelous performance by the All-Star game bound hurler, becoming the first Tiger to start a season 11-0. Scherzer pitched seven full innings, holding the Red Sox scoreless after allowing two runs in the first.
Victor Martinez: Huge game for the Tigers DH with five RBIs, reaching base four times, including a first inning grand slam. It was as if it was 2011 all over again.
Austin Jackson: Three hits, two runs and an RBI. Just another game for Jackson since his return off the DL.
Andy Dirks: Broke out with three hits. Dirks also had something rarer than a fan who wanted Jose Valverde to stick around - a stolen base.
Torii Hunter: Three hits moves his average back over .300, added some ninth inning levity.
FOX: Their ridiculous regional coverage and blackout window forcing out of state Tigers fans to watch games they could not care less about.
Kenny Albert: an off game for Marv's little brother, most notably calling Justin Verlander the "Reigning MVP and Cy Young." Still better than Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, though.
MLB: Their policy (supposed to change in 2014) which prevents fans who have shelled out serious coin for MLB.TV from watching games broadcast on FOX is utterly and completely fan unfriendly and totally asinine. The future is now, MLB. Embrace it.
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Miguel Cabrera was unstoppable against the Red Sox, 4-for-4 with a three run home run. Miggy was also unstoppable in the PotG balloting, carrying 92% of the vote.