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Tigers 5, Pirates 2: Max Scherzer strikes out 14 (!!) to give Tigers second straight win

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Max Scherzer tallied 14 strikeouts, holding the Pirates scoreless through eight innings as J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos each had a field day at the plate.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

DETROIT — The Tigers defense almost got a day off with Max Scherzer on the mound as he pitched eight shutout innings against the Pirates. The offense woke up mid-game, helped in part by the Pirates defensive blunders, and as a result the Tigers won 5-2 to take a split on the home-home series.

Scherzer got the day started out by striking out the side in the first two innings. By the fifth, he had 11 and when the eighth came around, Scherzer had sent 14 batters back to the visiting dugout shaking their heads in disbelief. He recorded a new season-high in both pitches (121) and strikeouts (14), coming short of tying a career-high by just one strikeout.

"(Scherzer's) fastball's generally always good," Ausmus said. "His changeup was very good but his curveball, he threw a couple curveballs today harder than normal, down and in on left-handed hitters. Usually his curveball's more of an off-speed pitch on the outer half of the plate, but he's been working on it a little bit, throwing it harder on the inside part to lefties."

Two of the three hits Scherzer allowed were doubles and he gave up two walks, but Scherzer really only needed his outfield defense three times for outs. Once when J.D. Martinez caught a fly ball to left field that resulted in a crash at the wall, and two uneventful flyouts to center and right field respectively. Despite that his pitch count became elevated in just the fifth inning, Scherzer remained in the game until the eighth inning.

The bullpen, being up to its usual shenanigans, came courtesy of one Phil Coke, who came out in the ninth inning with a five-run lead to work with. After walking the leadoff batter, he got the next one to ground into a force, but pinch hitter Gaby Sanchez hit a two-run home run into left to erase a shutout. Joba Chamberlain replaced Coke and got the job done instead, with the help of an impressive diving catch by Torii Hunter. (MLB.com video)

The offense went down quietly through four innings, being no-hit and striking out six times. That would only last so long though as J.D. Martinez hit a fifth inning leadoff home run to get the offense going. He went on to finish 2-3 and made a nice catch in left to save at least one run in the fourth inning. For the Tigers, it was another key hit they needed for two consecutive days.

"The silence in the dugout immediately went away when J.D. (Martinez) hit that ball," Ausmus said. "It was good to get the energy and the life back into the dugout and into the players."

After that it was all downhill for the Pirates. The Tigers relinquished just one 1-2-3 inning to the Pirates, scoring in the fifth, sixth, and eighth innings. Martinez was sharp all-around but Castellanos also provided one key hit, a two-run single in the eighth inning that gave the Tigers the breathing room they were looking for.

ROARS:

Max Scherzer: He shutout the Pirates for eight strong innings, holding them to just three hits and two walks. He struck out a season-high 14 batters. After a ground-rule double in the fourth inning, Scherzer retired the next 10 batters before allowing a one-out walk in the seventh to Ike Davis.

J.D. Martinez: Broke up Liriano's no-hitter with a no-doubt home run to left that put the Tigers on the board first. (MLB.com video) He also saved Scherzer from allowing the Pirates to get on the board when he crashed into the wall in left field to catch a deep fly ball that barely missed being a home run. The crashing catch knocked the wind out of him but he remained in the game after a moment to collect himself. (MLB.com video) If that wasn't enough, J.D. Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth inning to force in the run for an RBI, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead over the Pirates. He finished 2-3 with a walk and the home run.

Nick Castellanos: A two-run RBI single in the eighth inning gave the Tigers their final score and Castellanos enabled the team to enter the ninth inning with a 5-0 lead instead of a score of 3-0. He finished 2-4 for the day.

Torii Hunter's ninth inning catch: While it's unlikely that the Pirates would have gotten an in-the-park home run if Hunter didn't make the catch, it saved at least a double, possibly a triple. Offensively it was a quiet day for the right fielder, but Hunter flashed some of that Gold Glove catching that has been missing all too often this season.

Joba Chamberlain: Saved the game by getting the final two batters out, with much help by Hunter. Still he needed just four pitches to do it and only one resulted in a ball. Bumbles beware.

HISSES:

Cabrera/Hunter/Castellanos in the sixth inning: Three hitters with power and all came up empty. Cabrera grounded out and Hunter and Castellanos both struck out swinging, letting a chance slip by them to break open the game and jump to a comfortable lead at the time.

Alex Avila and Eugenio Suarez: Combined they were 0-7 with four strikeouts and that's no way to score runs.

Phil Coke: The man had one easy job to do with a five-run shutout lead to work with. Coke resorted to old hidden ways, allowing a leadoff walk and a two-run home run that blasted into the left field seats.

NOTES::

In a pre-game interview with the media, Joe Nathan apologized to the fans for his actions Wednesday night.

The Kansas City Royals beat the Oakland Athletics 7-3, keeping the Tigers in second place by a half-game for another day.

STREAKS AND STATS:

  • Ian Kinsler was credited with his 12th stolen base of the season in the bottom of the first inning.
  • Max Scherzer struck out the side in the first two innings, becoming the first Tigers pitcher to do so since Gary Knotts on June 23, 2004.
  • Scherzer had double-digit strikeouts for the sixth time this season, and the 24th time in his career. His last was on August 9 against the Toronto Blue Jays when he struck out 11. Scherzer is tied with teammate David Price and Hall of Famer Lefty Grove for career double-digit strikeouts.
  • Scherzer's 10-or-more strikouts gives him six games for the season. Only David Price (10) & Corey Kluber (7) have more double-digit strikeout games than Scherzer. Scherzer's 12th strikeout in the sixth inning gave him seven career games with at least a dozen strikeouts. Clayton Kershaw, Jon Lester, James Shields, & Jake Peavy also have seven.
  • Scherzer's outing on Thursday gave him back-to-back games of 10-or-more strikeouts for the third time in his career, and first time since April 12 & 17, 2013. He also has 21 games of 10-or-more strikeouts as a member of the Tigers, which is fifth-most in club history.
  • Scherzer recorded a new season-high 14 strikeouts with his strikeout of Chris Stewart in the eighth inning. He finished the day one away from tying a career-high of 15 strikeouts, which he did on May 20, 2012 against the Pirates.
  • Scherzer also became the second Tigers pitcher along with Mickey Lolich in the last 100 years to pitch eight-or-more scoreless innings with 14 strikeouts and three-or-fewer hits.
  • J.D. Martinez's home run was his 16th of the season, his first since August 2 and his third since July 13.
  • Victor Martinez was walked intentionally twice, once in the sixth and once in the eighth inning. His intentional walk in the eighth gave him a major league leading 20 intentional walks for the season.
  • Cabrera recorded his first extra-base hit in nearly a month, a double. His last occurred on July 19.

WIN PROBABILITY GRAPH:


Source: FanGraphs

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TOP RECS:

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
8 J_the_Man [no title]
4 NCDee Two in a row!!!!
2 NCDee Our Martinez(es) > Their Martinez
1 Naqamel Keep Max in the game!
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