Detroit 7, Toronto 1 (box)
The Tigers used a six-run fourth to give right hander Max Scherzer all the support he would need last night. Facing Toronto’s Ricky Romero, Tigers hitters had trouble at times laying off the changeup low and away. When they were able to spit on that pitch, Romero was forced to come in with fastballs and Detroit hitters attacked.
Entering the fourth, Romero had held the Tigers to one hit and one walk. In that innings, Detroit found a new approach, a little luck, and much more success. Romero allowed the first two batters to reach via a single and a walk. After getting Miguel Cabrera to fly out, Ryan Raburn hit a ball to third baseman Edwin Encarnacion. The play should have been the second out at worst and was a possible double-play, which would have gotten Romero out of the inning. Instead Encarnacion’s throw was wide and all hands were safe, including Ramon Santiago, who scored the game’s first run.
The next batter was Jhonny Peralta, who had struck out in his first at bat. Peralta was sitting fastball and got one. He hammered it deep to left and over the wall for a three-run shot, his 13th of the year and sixth since coming over to the Tigers. Three batters later, following another walk, Romero fell behind to Gerald Laird and the Tigers catcher launched a two-run shot of his own to put the game out of reach.
Scherzer took care of the rest.
Jim Leyland has talked about needing to get “one more inning” from his two big starters. Scherzer was able to work through the eighth last night on 117 pitches, giving Leyland exactly what he asked for. He held the powerful Jays lineup to just one run, coming on a solo homer by Jose Bautista, who lead the majors with 41 on the year. In total, Scherzer fanned eight and walked just one en route to his 10th win of the year.
Since coming back from a two-week trip to Triple-A in May, Scherzer has been a different guy, now 9-5 with a 2.20 ERA in his last 17 starts. In that time, he has struck out 116 batters in just 110.2 innings. The Tigers see a more confident pitcher, but Scherzer disagrees. “I’m pitching the same way as I did my whole life,” he said. “Every start has been the exact same.”
Cheers after the jump.
- Gerald Laird– Laird did nothing for the first four months of the season, batting .187/.244/.261/.505 through July. This month he’s posted a .289/.357/.421/.778 line including his current seven-game hitting streak. He’s batting .320 during that streak.
- Jhonny Peralta– He knocked in four runs last night, the last coming on a bases-loaded walk. Over his past 11 games, Peralta is hitting .310 with four homers and 14 RBI. In his previous 13 games, he had hit just .128.
- Max Scherzer– Mad Max has taken over as the leader among starters in ERA, sitting at 3.60 on the season. Even his his terrible start, Scherzer has put up peripherals strikingly similar to those of Justin Verlander. His WHIP, H/9, BB/9, K/9, and K:BB ratio are all only ever-so-slightly behind the Tigers anointed ace.
The Tigers have won six of their last seven and have climbed back up to .500 on the season. They face an uphill battle to get back into the race in the Central, but they aren’t done yet. Verlander will get a chance to continue the hot streak tonight when he opposes Shaun Marcum in the second game of this four game set.
“We’re all competitive guys — we wouldn’t be at this level if we weren’t — so you want to go out there and one-up the last guy,” Verlander said. “Everyone’s pitching well, so you don’t want to be the one that goes out there and ends the streak.” Verlander has won two of his past three starts including an eight-inning effort versus Cleveland in his last outing. He held the Jays to two runs over eight innings in a 5-2 win on July 22.
Cabrera has two doubles and a home run in eight career at-bats versus Marcum, who beat the Tigers on July 24. Bautista is 1-for-7 career versus Verlander.