Normally, a Verlander start would be all about Verlander. But recently, the Tigers have fallen into a funk where sharp starting efforts have been undone by an inability to score runs on offense. Last night after a brief bit of trouble in the first (exacerbated by Cabrera’s failure to turn a DP), Max Scherzer settled down and had one of his best outings of the season.
After the 1st inning, Scherzer only gave up 2 hits in 7 innings, with 9 strikeouts (and 0 walks for the game), which incidentally puts him in the Tiger record book as the only Tiger to strike out 8 or more in 10 consecutive starts, breaking a tie with Hal Newhouser. Max seems to be in playoff form…if only.
Unfortunately, the Tiger offense was unable to put together a rally, settling for a couple solo home runs (the hallmark of their early season malaise), had too many strikeouts (10 from their 3-6 hitters), were unable to advance the potential winning run from 2nd with no outs in the 9th, and had the range of their infield exposed.
Result: for the 3rd time in the past week, the Tigers fall 3-2 (in fact the Tigers have had 16 3-2 games already this season). The Tigers now have a 2nd-half record in 1-run games of 3-10, which is not how one makes the playoffs. The last 1-run game the Tigers won on the road: June 24th. Perhaps the Tigers could borrow a 1-run game or two from the Orioles.
Also notable last night: Ryan Raburn made his late season debut. Confidently aggressive, he scorched a two-hopper to the mound on the first pitch he saw. Impressed, Leyland decided to start him tonight, and placed him in the 6th spot in the lineup. (This may be the season where Raburn waits until the 3rd half to get hot).
I blame the fans. Someone emailed in a lineup that had all right-handers. I’m not blaming any of you personally, but if you confess we will go easy on you. (Luckily, Leyland scratched out “Santiago, 1B” and scribbled in “Fielder, 1B”).
Leyland also decided to take a day off from the Maybe-Boesch-Will-Run-Into-One Project (and he did run into one against Cleveland, a mammoth shot to dead center), perhaps inspired by his 4 AB, 3K performance last night, so tonight in RF we get to see Mini-Mig, Avisail Garcia.
Stat of the Day: Prince Fielder had one of the few offensive highlights last night with a solo home run. Over the past 2 weeks, Fielder has hit for .385 (1.196 OPS), with 3 HR and 6 RBI. And 3 HBP.
Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Avisail Garcia. The Halos pitch around the dangerous Raburn to get to Garcia, and he makes them pay.
Todays Almost All-Right Lineup: