This game was originally billed as one of the better pitchers’ duels you’ll see, but when Cliff Lee was scratched due to a stiff neck it turned into a lopsided affair. Max Scherzer held up his end of the bargain – going six innings with seven strikeouts, one hit, zero walks, and zero earned runs – but Philadelphia Phillies emergency starter Raul Valdes wasn’t able to fill Lee’s significant shoes.
The Tigers offense jumped on Valdes early and often. He was able to send down Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter to begin the Tigers’ half of the first inning, but that was when the wheels feel off for him. Miguel Cabrera followed with a solo home run to left field (his first plate appearance after missing three games with a sore hip). Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, and Jhonny Peralta followed with a single each, and Matt Tuiasosopo belted a three-run home run to cap the five-run first.
It was more of the same in the second inning. Alex Avila led off with a single and, after Austin Jackson lined out, back-to-back singles by Hunter and Cabrera plated another run. Valdes was able to get Fielder on strikes, but a two-out single by Martinez brought in two more runs. It was 8-0 in favor of Detroit before Charlie Manuel could pick up the phone to call the bullpen.
The Tigers would add on single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, but it would hardly matter. The Phillies would go down without putting up much of a fight; they would get only three runners on base (getting to second base only once).
- The Tigers are now 17-4 when Max Scherzer has started the game. That’s a lot to do with Max being one of the better pitchers in the game, but it’s also a lot to do with the offense scoring what can only be described as hecka runs in support.
- Miguel Cabrera was replaced by Ramon Santiago in the fifth inning in a move that was almost surely precautionary in nature. Even with the early exit, he found time for three plate appearances, two hits, and three RBI.
- Victor Martinez had three hits to raise his slash line to .269/.319/.397. That’s still not good overall, but take away his dismal April and he’s been nearly as expected. He’s been absolutely crushing it all month.
- Al Alburquerque pitched two scoreless innings in relief. He struck out one and walked one. He’s a potentially big part of the bullpen down the stretch. Not that he’s going to pitch in big innings, but he could help solidify the void that is middle relief right now.