In a four game series which is being promoted as a playoff preview and game one featuring a premier pitching matchup, the Detroit Tigers out-hit and out-pitched the Los Angeles Angels in a 6-4 victory. The Tigers have won three of their first four games on the west coast swing, raising their MLB best road record to 31-17.
Tigers starter Max Scherzer (W, 12-3) no-hit the Angels over the first three innings, striking out five of the first nine batters he faced. Scherzer lost the no-no in the fourth, and his shutout by allowing three runs in the fifth. But Scherzer would settle back down to toss seven solid innings, striking out 11 while allowing just those three runs on six hits.
Joba Chamberlain wasn't at his sharpest, allowing an eighth inning run, the first he's given up in a month. But struggling closer Joe Nathan was stunningly lights out, striking out the side on 12 pitches to record his 21st save.
Garrett Richards (L, 11-3) is having a breakout season for the Angels, coming into the night not having lost since May 30. He pitched decently, but the Tigers still tagged Richards for his worst outing in two months. The Angels' ace took the loss, giving up seven hits and four runs in six innings, walking two and striking out five.
Down a run when Richards was pulled, the Angels bullpen couldn't keep the game close. Ex-Tiger Jason Grilli and Fernando Salas each gave up a run in their inning of work, only Joe Smith keeping Detroit off the scoreboard.
Detroit's balanced offense outhit LA 11-6, and was once again led by Austin Jackson. The Tigers' lead off man remained red hot with two hits, a run scored and an RBI. After being out for the three games in Arizona in order to keep Victor Martinez's bat in the lineup, Nick Castellanos returned to third base. His bat also returned with a vengeance with two hits and two RBI. Eugenio Suarez's broke out of a slump, reaching base three times and scoring two runs. Ian Kinsler chipped in two RBI and Torii Hunter added an RBI double.
All three Angels runs came during a six batter stretch in the fifth. C.J. Cron's infield single drove in their first run; Kole Calhoun's two RBI double wrapped up the scoring for Los Angeles.
Game two of the weekend series features a match up of promising young left-handers. For Detroit, 25-year-old Drew Smyly (6-3, 3.80 ERA) toes the slab, while 23-year-old Tyler Skaggs (5-5, 4.65 ERA) gets the start for LA. First pitch is 10:05 PM eastern.
Max Scherzer: A rough three run, 30 pitch fifth inning was the only black mark on an otherwise excellent outing for Scherzer, who struck out 11 in seven innings of work.
Torii Hunter: Only one hit, but it was a big one - a sixth inning RBI double (MLB.com video), kick-starting a three run rally.
Nick Castellanos: Two hits, including a sixth inning, two RBI double to cap off a three run rally (MLB.com video), giving the Tigers a lead they would never relinquish.
Ian Kinsler: Drove in two runs on a first inning ground ball and seventh inning double (MLB.com video).
Austin Jackson: Singled twice and scored two runs. But Jackson's most impressive play was with his glove, robbing Kole Calhoun of extra bases in the seventh with a leaping, inning-ending catch.
Eugenio Suarez: Snapped out of a 1-for-13 funk by reaching base three times on a walk and two hits, scoring a pair of runs and stealing a base.
Joe Nathan: Was in shutdown closer mode, striking out the side on 12 pitches.
Nathan throwing strikes as if he realizes the Tigers have acquired another "proven closer" who could supplant him.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 25, 2014
American League baseball: No pitchers batting. No third inning bunts. No double switches. Using a pitcher to his full ability instead of pulling him with gas in the tank because you might need another run. Ain't it great?
Alex Avila: A bad night for MLive's favorite punching bag - 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
J.D. Martinez is dealing with what is being called "upper quad discomfort" and was out of the lineup for a second straight game. Rajai Davis got the start in left field.
We had another ex-Tiger sighting tonight. Jason Grilli, who was literally booed out of Detroit in 2008, was traded to the Angels earlier this season. We saw why the Pirates gave up on Grilli as their closer when he was greeted with back-to-back hits to start the seventh, allowing the Tigers to extend their lead to 5-3.
Cannot see Jason Grilli and not think of that day at Comerica Park, in 2008, against White Sox. Boos nearly stripped Grilli of his uniform.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) July 25, 2014
We had our first Joakim Soria sighting tonight. The newest Tiger warmed up in the seventh, but wasn't used.
Hello Joakim Soria! Welcome to the Detroit Tigers bullpen. May you have a happy and out-filled stay. pic.twitter.com/8UOgomHSYF— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 25, 2014
In AL Central news, Ryan Raburn is back in the running for the worst throw ever. His spiked throw allowed Mike Moustakas to circle the bases, the only run Corey Kluber gave up in nine innings. The Royals would end up winning 2-1, walking off against the Indians in 14 innings. As you might guess, they are beyond apoplectic over Raburn's antics at Let's Go Tribe. Been there, done that, guys. Welcome to the club.
STREAKS AND STATS:
Garrett Richards had given up just two runs total in his last three starts covering 22 1/3 innings. He had not given up more than three runs in any of his last nine appearances. That changed tonight. The Tigers plated four runs in six innings off Richards, including three before anyone was out in the sixth.
Austin Jackson singled in the seventh, and has now hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games. He is batting .418 during that stretch. Jackson's eighth inning single extended his multi-hit game streak to seven.
Victor Martinez was given an intentional walk in the seventh inning. That gives him 16 on the season, tied with David Ortiz and Giancarlo Stanton for the most in the majors.
Max Scherzer was in strikeout mode tonight with 11 in seven innings of work. Scherzer had double-digit strikeouts in a game for the fourth time this season and the 22nd time in his career. Since 2012, Scherzer has 16 games with ten strikeouts or more, second only to the Rangers' Yu Darvish (25).
Eugenio Suarez stole second base in the eighth, the first stolen base of his career.
Joba Chamberlain pitched the eighth, allowing his first run in the month of July. That snapped his scoreless outing streak at eight games.
Joe Nathan struck out the side in the ninth inning for the second time this season. He did the same against the Royals on June 16.
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