May 10, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers former manager Jim Leyland address the crowd after he throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the game against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers even series with Minnesota Twins via 9-3 win


 

It is fitting that on Jim Leyland Appreciation Day, one of his favorite players–often to a fault, Don Kelly, had the highlight of the entire game in the Detroit Tigers 9-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

Just two batters into the game, Kelly robbed Kurt Suzuki of a homer.

Here it is in case you missed it.

This near homer was a bit prophetic how Max Scherzer‘s day would go. While the reining Cy Young Award winner would go on to win his fifth straight decision, he did labor a lot during the day, getting into and out of many jams. The first inning was the only inning that Max retired Minnesota 1-2-3, and without the heroics from Kelly, that wouldn’t have been the case.

All of the Tigers offense came in two innings–six runs in the second, three runs in the seventh. In between those rallies, the Tigers placed just a few runners on base. They chased Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson from the game after the second inning. In that inning the bottom of the lineup drove in single runs–with Torii Hunter, Alex Avila, and Andrew Romine picking up an RBI each. Austin Jackson was thrown out at home when Nick Castellanos reached on a fielder’s choice. Miguel Cabrera capped off the rally with a three-run, opposite field homer, which put Detroit up by six.

Scherzer run support–where have we heard this before, right? Game over, right? Not so fast…

Max kept getting himself into trouble with walks. After recording the first out in the top of the third, after his teammates had batted around to give him a six-run lead, Scherzer allowed a walk to Aaron Hicks. Danny Santana doubled and Brian Dozier hit a three-run dinger to left field–and this time Donny Baseball was helpless and could only watch.

Scherzer escaped the inning with no further damage, but issued another walk and a wild-pitch to make it a little dicey.

This was easily Max’s worst effort since his one loss this year in San Diego. His final line was six innings, allowing five hits, three runs and four walks. Max has not allowed that many bases on balls all year and his six strikeouts were his fewest in any game this season.

Despite the constant traffic on the bases, Scherzer and three Tigers’ relievers (Al Alburquerque, Joba Chamberlain, and Phil Coke) were able to keep Minnesota off the board the rest of the way.

The red-hot, and suddenly power hitting, Victor Martinez hit a three-run shot in the seventh to help the Tigers regain their six-run lead that they would not relinquish.

Notes:

  • Three cheers for Coke who pitched a scoreless ninth. The much-maligned lefty allowed a lead-off base hit to Santana, but induced a double-play and fly out to seal the victory. He “lowered” his ERA to 8.31.
  • Miggy picked up two more hits today, including the three run homer. In his last five games, Cabrera is hitting .368 with three homers and nine RBIs. The swing may not be totally back, but he’s still one of the team’s hottest hitters.
  • Owner Mike Ilitch made a rare public appearance and hosted Leyland in his box on Jim Leyland Appreciation Day. Thanks Skip! We appreciate everything you did to help turn around baseball in Detroit.

The Tigers will look to take their fourth straight series when they play the rubber match of the weekend series with the Twins on Mother’s Day afternoon. Rookie Robbie Ray (1-0, 1.69) will face Samuel Deduno (0-1, 5.40). Game time is 1:08.

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