When originally scheduled, it was believed there would be a pitcher's duel between the Detroit Tigers' Max Scherzer and the Philadelphia Phillies' Cliff Lee. It became a mismatch when Lee was scratched Friday night, replaced by journeyman right-hander Raul Valdes. With Valdes serving up batting practice, allowing nine runs in less than four innings, the Tigers crushed the Phillies 10-0. The Phillies downward spiral continues, their losing streak now stands at seven games.
Miguel Cabrera returned to the Tigers' lineup after a four game absence, homering in his first at bat. Removed from the game after three at bats for what manager Jim Leyland later said was precautionary measures, Cabrera ended his night with two hits and three RBIs in three at bats.
Scherzer (15-1) made great use of the run support, becoming only fourth pitcher in the 21st century to start a season 15-1. He allowed just one hit, striking out seven over six shutout innings. Valdes (1-1) was rocked, rolled and left bloodied by the Tigers' offense, giving up a dozen hits and nine runs in just 3 2/3 innings.
The Tigers clubbed Phillies pitching into submission with 15 hits. Joing Cabrera on the score card were white hot Victor Martinez with three hits and two RBIs, Torii Hunter adding three singles and Matt Tuiasosopo hitting a three run homer. Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila joined the hit parade with two hits each.
The Phillies has just three base runners total on the night. Darin Ruf supplied almost all of their offense, doubling in the second and drawing an eighth inning walk.
Miguel Cabrera only needed one swing of the bat to make his presence felt. In his first appearance at the plate since being injured on July 22, Cabrera's first swing of the bat resulted in a line drive, no-doubt solo shot over the bullpen in left. Home run 32 and RBI 97 of the season for Cabrera gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead (MLB.com video).
Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez followed with back-to-back singles. Fielder rumbled to third without drawing a throw when Martinez's liner glanced off Jimmy Rollins' glove and rolled into short center. Fielder's hustle paid off, scoring easily when Jhonny Peralta singled through the left side.
Matt Tuiasosopo made a bad start worse for spot starter Raul Valdes. The big left fielder crushed a 1-2 off speed pitch, airmailing it into Cabrera-fielder territory, hitting the bushes beyond the center field wall 420' away. Home run number seven for Tuiasosopo increased the Tigers' lead to 5-0 (MLB.com video).
It was only one inning into the game, but for the slumping Phillies it was game over.
Top of two and Scherzer looking for a shutdown inning after being given a big lead, the Phillies Darin Ruf drilled a long two out double over the head of Austin Jackson in right center. Scherzer struck out Laynce Nix swinging to get his shutdown inning.
The Tigers continued to pound Valdes in the second. Alex Avila had his fourth hit of the season off a left-hander with a lead off single to right. Back in the lineup after missing a game with a sore Achilles, Torii Hunter lashed a one out broken bat single to left. Swinging the bat like he hadn't missed any time at all, Cabrera golfed a pitch off his shoe tops for an RBI single, scoring Avila. RBI number 98 for Cabrera pushed him past the Orioles' Chris Davis, retaking the MLB lead.
Valdes wild pitched both runners into scoring position while striking out Fielder. The wild pitch immediately came back to haunt the Phillies, Martinez's single to center plated both Hunter and Cabrera, the Tigers now up 8-0.
After two full innings, the Tigers had sent 16 batters to the plate, scoring eight runs on ten hits. GAME OVER.
After facing eight batters in each of the first two innings, Valdez tossed a 1-2-3 third. He must have tired out the Tigers from all hitting and the running and the scoring.
Bottom of four and the Tigers still up 8-0, Hunter led off with liner into the left center field gap. The Phillies botched the relay, but a good throw still would have nailed Hunter at third. They didn't get it, Hunter reaching third on what was scored double, E-9.
The Phillies conceded the run by playing the infield back, Cabrera bounced out to short, Hunter crossing the plate to make a 9-0 game. Three at bats, three RBIs for Cabrera.
Martinez reached for the third straight at bat, lining a double over the head of center fielder Erik Kratz. After a dozen hits and nine runs in just 3 2/3 innings Phillies manager Charlie Manuel mercifully brought out the hook, replacing Valdes with right-hander J.C. Ramirez. Ramirez ended the batting practice fun by striking out Peralta.
Holding a nine run lead in the fifth, Jim Leyland went for the hook as well, pulling Cabrera out of the game. No word if it was due to Cabrera re-injuring himself, a precautionary measure or the Tigers' version of the mercy rule. Regardless, Ramon Santiago was in the game at third base.
The Phillies waved the white flag in the bottom of the fifth, Manuel making substitutions en masse. It's easier to quote MLB Gameday:
Defensive Substitution: Steve Susdorf replaces third baseman Michael Young, batting 1st, playing left field.
Defensive switch from first base to second base for Kevin Frandsen.
Defensive Substitution: John McDonald replaces shortstop Jimmy Rollins, batting 3rd, playing shortstop.
Defensive Substitution: John Mayberry replaces second baseman Chase Utley, batting 4th, playing center field.
Defensive switch from left field to first base for Darin Ruf.
Defensive switch from center field to third base for Michael Martinez.
The only positions not affected with the moves were pitcher, catcher and right field. Maybe the Philles should have made a pitching change as well, Ramirez loading the bases with one out. Hernan Perez and Avila singled, Jackson walked, Hunter's sacrifice fly to center pushed the Tigers' lead to double digits at 10-0.
Meanwhile, Scherzer was rolling, dealing, kicking ass, you name it, he was doing it to the Phillies. Scherzer had retired 13 in a row after another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth.
The benches continued to clear in the seventh, Don Kelly replacing Fielder and Al Alburquerque taking over for Scherzer. Alburquerque would pitch two scoreless innings, allowing only a seventh inning single to Kevin Frandsen.
Evan Reed got the garbage time assignment for the Tigers, pitching the ninth inning of 10-0 blowout. He did his job, setting the side down in order to end another very quick, extremely thorough dismantling of the Phillies.
GAME officially OVER. Your final score is Tigers 10, Phillies 0. Time of game was only a minute longer than last night, a fast 2:25.
All I can say about the tonight's performance is, "EAT 'EM UP TIGERS, 'EAT 'EM UP!"
RIP James Van Horn.
Winners of 6-of-7, the Tigers reach a season high 13 games over .500 with the blowout victory, raising their record to 58-45. Their lead in the Central holds steady at three games over the Indians, 1-0 winners over the Rangers this afternoon.
In Sunday's series finale the Phillies send rookie right-hander Jonathan Pettibone (5-4, 3.97 ERA) to the mound, facing the Tigers' Rick Porcello (7-6, 4.49 ERA). Despite a loss to the Cardinals in his last start (5 IP, 7 H, 3 R), Pettibone is 2-1, 3.27 for July. Porcello has been light out as of late, 3-0, 1.35 over 20 innings pitched in his last three starts. Sunday's first pitch is scheduled for 1:08 PM.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
The game did not start on time due to rain in the area. First pitch was at 7:55 PM, a delay of 47 minutes.
There was a fan planned attempt to get an "Eat 'em Tigers, eat 'em up" chant going in honor of the late James Van Horn, aka "Eat 'em Up Tigers Guy," who was killed by a hit and run driver early Saturday morning. Unfortunately, it didn't come to fruition.
Chant got drowned out by John Cougar Mellencamp, unfortunately.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) July 27, 2013
Another game, another milestone for Miguel Cabrera. His first inning home run was number 353 of his career, tying him with Carlos Beltran for 85th all-time.
ESPN Stats & Info calculated Matt Tuiasosopo's first inning home run carried 438', the longest of his career.
How bad was Raul Valdes? He was throwing glorified BP.
This may be the worst major-league start I've ever seen. Valdes is throwing 84-mph fastballs and has allowed 10 hits while getting 5 outs.— Dave Hogg (@Stareagle) July 28, 2013
Valdes heads down to the locker room and peels the 'DES' off the back of his jersey to reveal 'VERDE'— Tom Yoder (@tomyoder) July 28, 2013
Max Scherzer getting crazy good run support was making a dead Hall of Fame pitcher cranky.
If I had M. Scherzer's run support I'd have won 25 more games per season and also would have made a pretty penny throwing a few games.— Old Hoss Radbourn (@OldHossRadbourn) July 28, 2013
Scherzer is now a spectacular 15-1 on the season. The last three pitchers to start a season 15-1 are Jered Weaver in 2012, Ubaldo Jimenez in 2010 and Roger Clemens in 2001.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Scherzer reached another milestone. At 21 straight games, he's now third all time in the AL with the most consecutive five plus strikeout starts to begin a season. Scherzer is only behind Bob Feller in 1946 (32) and Pedro Martinez in 1999 (26).
The Tigers scored ten or more runs in a game for the 11th time this season. The only team with more are the Cardinals with 13.
Stat of the night:
Miguel Cabrera is hitting .447 with 9 HR and 34 hits in games started by Max Scherzer this season— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 28, 2013
Post game, Jim Leyland said Torii Hunter would definitely sit out Sunday's game, Cabrera's status will be determined tomorrow.
Max Scherzer: If Austin Jackson caught Darin Ruf's second inning drive, he's still pitching in the seventh with a no-hitter on the line. Instead, Jackson was a step short, Ruf had a double and Scherzer was pulled with a ten run lead having allowed just one hit.
Miguel Cabrera: No worries about rust, Cabrera homered in his first at bat after missing four games with a hip injury. Given a early seat after five innings, Cabrera ended his night 2-for-3 with three RBIs
Victor Martinez: Three more hits for the Tigers' DH. No one is calling out Martinez for a lack of offense anymore.
Matt Tuiasosopo: His two out, two strike, three run homer in the first was a dagger which essentially ended the game right then and there. Tuiasosopo added a nice defensive play to his highlight reel in the third with a sliding catch in short left, robbing Chase Utley of a base hit.
Whomever was involved in the hit and run which killed James Van Horn, aka "Eat 'em up Tigers Guy" and his friend, Micheal, aka "Dreadlock Mike." A Facebook page has been set up to help find the drivers involved: Find the Hit and Run Killer of Two Detroit Icons.
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Doug Fister beat the Phillies with eight innings of one run (unearned) ball, making him a runaway victor in the PotG poll with 86% of the vote.