The Tigers desperately needed to get their road trip off to a good start. It wasn't perfect and the bullpen reared its ugly head once again, but the offense battled with good at-bats and clean defense to give the Tigers an 8-6 win over the Rays in 11 innings.
It wasn't looking good for Scherzer, who got off to a rocky start. He gave up three runs in the first inning and another in the second. With the Tigers down 4-0 and hitless against the Rays, it appeared to be another bad night for the Tigers. But Scherzer settled down, pitching the next five innings to near perfection as he allowed just one hit and a walk. While he received a no-decision in the end, those clean innings enabled the Tigers to come out swinging and come away with a much-needed win.
For far too long the offense has lied dormant, subjected to a handful of hits with almost nothing to show for it. That was not the case on Tuesday, but more importantly they did it with patient at-bats, something that hasn't been seen from the team in a while. The first four innings weren't pretty. The Tigers left men stranded in scoring position in both the third and fourth innings, but there was a difference in their approach as the middle and late innings came around.
J.D. Martinez came up big for the Tigers as he drove in the go-ahead score of the game, a solo home run to straightaway center in the eighth inning that gave the Tigers the 5-4 lead at the time. A leadoff triple by Ian Kinsler in the 11th sparked a three-run inning rally that led to the Tigers' victory over the Rays.
Rather than chase after the ball, trying to force something to happen the Tigers did the opposite. They drew 10 walks overall, four thanks to Grant Balfour in the 11th inning, which proved to be the decision in the game. They finished with 10 hits and had no errors.
Meanwhile, the bullpen was a combination of shaky and lock-down. Joba Chamberlain, who hasn't been himself lately, surrendered the tying run that sent the game into extra innings and Joe Nathan allowed a run on two hits and a walk. However, the remainder of the bullpen, including Jim Johnson, who earned the win, did not give up a hit and recorded two strikeouts, although they did walk three.
Max Scherzer: After a bad start where he gave up four runs in the first two innings, Scherzer locked down the Rays. He surrendered just one walk and a single while retiring 15 of the next 17 batters and striking out nine. He received a no-decision.
Fifth inning: The Tigers sent eight men to plate and drove in three unearned runs, making it a one-run game. Nick Castellanos hit a leadoff single, Andrew Romine singled, Rajai Davis reached via the force and a throwing error by the first baseman loaded the bases. Ian Kinsler had a patient plate appearance to force in the first run and Torii Hunter grounded into a force for the second. Miguel Cabrera drove in the third run after the Tigers challenged the trap play, which was overturned to make it a 4-3 deficit.
Rajai Davis: Largely due to patient back-to-back plate appearances by Avila and Romine, Davis drove in the tying run with an RBI single in the sixth inning. Davis then stole his 31st base of the season standing up as the catcher Curt Casali didn't bother to attempt a throw.
J.D. Martinez: He drove in the go-ahead run with a solo home run in the eighth inning on a 1-0 pitch. Martinez wears straight central well. (MLB.com video)
Ian Kinsler: After spoiling a third inning rally, Kinsler drew a walk in the fifth, doubled in the ninth and hit a leadoff triple in the 11th. The triple started a three-run rally wherein the Tigers drew four walks and the only hit in that inning was off the bat of Kinser. They went into the bottom of the 11th leading 8-5.
Al Alburquerque/Blaine Hardy/Jim Johnson: Alburquerque retired the first two batters and then walked the next. Ausmus brought in Hardy for the final out and Hardy struck out pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe to send the Tigers and Rays into extra innings. Johnson pitched the 10th inning, walking two and striking out one.
First four innings: The Tigers had multiple opportunities to get on the board, but they couldn't get the job done with runner in scoring position in both the third and fourth innings.
Joba Chamberlain: A walk and back-to-back singles loaded the bases in the eighth inning. It was a minor miracle the inning didn't end with more disastrous results as all the Rays got was a game-tying sacrifice fly by Vince Belnome.
Joe Nathan: The last thing the Tigers need right now are more antics from the bullpen. While Nathan didn't blow the save, he gave up a run on two hits and walked a batter. He struck out Sean Rodriguez to end the game, but it was a performance far from slamming the door.
Victor Martinez: He finished 0-5 with an RBI, a walk and a called strikeout, but Martinez popped out in every other out. A rarely frustrated Martinez slammed the bat down more than once after popping out, stranding runners on more than one occasion. Not your typical night for Martinez the Elder.
In the fourth inning Vince Belnome hit a pitch to deep right field and it was originally ruled a home run. However, upon a crew initiated review, the call was overturned and the ball was ruled a foul. Belnome struck out looking when he returned to finish his at-bat.
In the fifth inning Miguel Cabrera hit a line drive to center field that was initially called a hairline catch by the Rays' center fielder, Desmond Jennings. The Tigers challenged the call and after review it was determined that the ball had made contact with the field just prior to the ball being gloved. The call was overturned and Kinsler scored, which brought the Tigers within one of the Rays at the time. (MLB.com video)
STREAKS AND STATS:
- Max Scherzer allowed four runs in a game for the first time since June 17, 2014.
- Max Scherzer's strikeout of Vince Belnome in the fourth inning was his 200th of the season. It was also the third consecutive season Scherzer has recorded 200 strikeouts.
- Eight of J.D. Martinez's 17 home runs this season have come in the eighth inning or later.
- In his last 10 appearances, Chamberlain has recorded just one hold, blown two saves, given up seven earned runs in 8 1/3 innings, walked five and struck out just nine batters. His ERA is 7.78 during that stretch and he's allowed at least one run in six of his last 10 outings.
- Scherzer received a no-decision while Jim Johnson (5-2) received the win and Joe Nathan recorded his 26th save of the season.
- Combined, the Tigers and the Rays walked 18 batters, the Tigers getting 10 walks (four courtesy of Grant Balfour, who took the loss) and the Rays received eight. The Tigers did not make one error, playing a clean defensive game, while the Rays had one.
- With the exception of Victor Martinez and Alex Avila, every Tigers starting batter recorded a hit, only Martinez and Davis failed to record a run, and only Castellanos, Avila and Romine failed to get an RBI. Both Cabrera and Avila walked twice and every man in the starting rotation struck out at least once. Kinsler, J.D. Martinez and Romine each finished 2-5 for the night and they were the only ones to record multiple hits. Davis and Romine each recorded a stolen base, Davis his 31st and Romine his 7th of the season.
- Tuesday's win keeps the Tigers in the second wildcard spot, ahead of the Mariners.
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