The Detroit Tigers snapped a four game losing streak by riding a six run first inning to a 7-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The Tigers scored those six runs on White Sox starting pitcher Hector Noesi's first 25 pitches of the game. Once Noesi retired the first batter he faced, eight straight Tigers reached base on six hits and two walks, essentially ending the game.
The beneficiary of the big lead was Tigers' ace Max Scherzer (W, 13-3). But Scherzer did his part by acting as the stopped. He kept the lead big by shutting out the White Sox on three hits over six innings. He would lose a shutout in the seventh on Dayan Viciedo's sacrifice fly, but that was the only run Scherzer would give up over seven full innings of work. Scherzer allowed just five hits, striking out six and walking just one while earning his AL leading 13th win of the season.
The bullpen was a mixed bag, as usual. Blaine Hardy allowed a lead off single, then retired the next three batters in a scoreless eighth for the Tigers. Al Alburquerque pitched the ninth for Detroit, and was dinged for a solo home run off the bat of Adam Dunn, accounting for the final 7-2 score.
Noesi (L, 5-8) was on the verge of getting knocked out of the game in both the first, allowing six runs, and in the second, loading the bases with one out. But Noesi would settle in to the point where he would shutout the Tigers over his final five innings of work. Noesi did take the loss, but saved the White Sox bullpen by pitching six innings, allowing six runs on ten hits (zero and four after over the final five frames), striking out three and walking three.
The Tigers would tack on an additional run in the seventh when White Sox reliever Eric Surkamp served up three straight two out singles to cap off Detroit's scoring.
Nick Castellanos sat out Tuesday's loss with a finger contusion. Detroit's rookie third baseman returned the lineup with a vengeance, leading the Tigers' offense with a career high four RBI. Castellanos hit his seventh home run of the season in first inning, a three run shot to put the Tigers up 6-0. Castellanos added a seventh inning RBI single to wrap up a career night.
Torii Hunter had a big night as well - three singles, two runs scored and an RBI. J.D. Martinez added two hits and an RBI, Miguel Cabrera reaching base three times and scoring a run.
An odd win for Detroit. The Tigers were up 6-0 after Noesi had thrown 25 pitches, then scored just once over the remainder of the game.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 31, 2014
A weird win it may have been, but the Tigers badly needed it. It doesn't matter when you score the runs, as long as you end up with more than the other team.
Max Scherzer: Excellent outing for Scherzer, who held the White Sox scoreless for six innings. Scherzer ran out of gas, losing the shutout in seventh, but ended his night having allowed just one run on five hits over seven full innings.
Nick Castellanos: Supplied the big blast of the night for Detroit, an opposite field three run bomb to right to cap off the Tigers' six run first inning.
Torii Hunter: Three hits and an RBI for the 39-year-old, who is again defying Father Time. Hunter has bounced back from a God awful June (.488 OPS) to have a great July (.973 OPS).
J.D. Martinez: Two hits and an RBI for the slumping outfielder. Tonight was Martinez's first game with more than one hit since he had three against the Royals on July 13. In the ten games between multi-hit performances, Martinez hit .147/.171/.235.
Blaine Hardy: The rookie lefty tossed a scoreless eighth. In nine July appearances covering nine innings, Hardy has allowed just one run.
The Tigers offense after the second inning: Detroit had Noesi on the ropes, then let him of the hook by doing absolutely nothing on offense for four innings. The third inning took 3 pitches. The fourth was a whole six. The fifth was another three pitches.
The White must have pulled a fast one, putting a good pitcher in Noesi's jersey. The Tigers have been shutout on 4 hits since the 6 run 1st— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 31, 2014
Noesi was on track for another low pitch count inning in the sixth until Ian Kinsler actually worked a full count with two out, extending the White Sox starter to a 19 pitch frame. Noesi was pulled after six innings, ending his night with five shutout innings.
Going by the Tigers' extremely quick at-bats, they must want to get home in time to see the ending of Sharknado 2.— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 31, 2014
Al Alburquerque: It really was a meaningless home run Alburquerque served up to Adam Dunn, but the bullpen has to earn as HISS, just because. It was the seventh home run Alburquerque has allowed in 50 appearances this season. In 53 games last year, Alburquerque allowed five big flies.
The start of tonight's game was delayed 29 minutes due to rain.
Third baseman Nick Castellanos was back in the lineup after missing a game with a finger contusion. Shortstop Eugenio Suarez remained out the lineup after leaving yesterday's game with lower back tightness. Saurez is considered day-to-day ... as are we all.
Torii Hunter philosophized on the game of baseball during a post game interview:
Torii Hunter:You have to keep scoring runs, because this game of baseball will slap you in the face (looks to camera) pic.twitter.com/sETS7hFAVB— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 31, 2014
STREAKS AND STATS:
Nick Castellanos' home run in the first inning was his first in 22 games. The last time he went yard was over a month ago, June 27 against the Astros.
Castellanos added an RBI single in the seventh, giving him a career high four RBI.
Torii Hunter's first inning RBI single gave him 23 RBI in July, second only to David Ortiz (25) in in the AL
White Sox starter Hector Noesi struggled early, needing 56 pitches to get through the first two innings. He then recorded three consecutive innings of just six pitches or less, allowing Noesi to end the sixth inning with a pitch count of just 87.
Every Tiger starter reached base. The only Tiger without a hit was Alex Avila, who drew a walk during the first inning rally.
Blaine Hardy has not allowed a run in nine of his last ten outings, posting a 0.90 ERA during that stretch.
Max Scherzer won his 13th game of the season, leading the AL and tying him with the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright for the MLB lead.
Over their past five games, the Tigers have a 1-4 record. In those five games, Detroit has scored in just six of their last 44 innings. Not exactly a coincidence.
Detroit snapped a four game losing streak and raised their surprisingly bad home record to one game over .500 at 27-26.
WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:
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