Baltimore’s Chris Davis blasted a solo home run in the top of the second inning — his 24th home run of the year — but that was all the scoring the Orioles would come up with against Max Scherzer and the Tigers.
The solo homer aside, Max was brilliant. He struck out ten Oriole would-be hitters and walked only two in six strong innings. He still runs into trouble with elevated pitch counts, but I would always rather a starter be able to go all out like that for six dominant innings than languish through seven or eight. The rules of baseball stipulate that a pitcher from the winning and losing teams must be credited with a win and a loss respectively, and so Scherzer became the second pitcher in the major leagues to be credited with ten wins this season, and the first to do so without also being credited with a loss. Of course, we all know that pitcher wins are meaningless because once we know a pitchers ERA, strikeout, home run, and walk rates, knowing his assigned win-loss total provides zero extra insight into how good he’s been. That being said, Scherzer indeed has been terrific this season.
The highlight of the night for Scherzer came in the fifth inning when Davis came up to the plate to face him with the bases loaded and two outs. Max quickly got ahead with two strikes, but Davis took a pair of oh-so-close fastballs off the plate (the type that are commonly called strikes against lefties). Scherzer went right back to the same spot with a 97 mph heater that Davis waved at for strike three. It was Max’s third strikeout of the inning.
Offensively it was Miguel Cabrera (two-run HR in the first inning) and Jhonny Peralta (double in the second inning) who had the extra base hits, but Austin Jackson again showed what the team was missing in his absence. A-Jax was 3-for-4 with his patented line drive singles, came around to score on two of those hits, and drove in a run with the third. It goes without saying how nice it is to see that driving force at the top of the lineup.