Max Scherzer just didn’t have it in the series finale against the Oakland Athletics. Looking for his 20th win, he gave up six runs on eight hits in five innings. The game brought Scherzer’s ERA up to 2.90. Scherzer left the game losing 6-1. The game seemed like a lost cause until the bottom of the ninth. Oakland brought in their closer, Grant Balfour, who had only one blown save on the season.
Victor Martinez singled in one to make it 6-4 and then Jose Iglesias pinch ran for him. The pinch runner was not needed as Tori Hunter homered in the next at bat. The 7-6 victory halted the three game losing streak. The Tigers had a six game lead over the Indians before the start of the series. They now lead by 6 and a half. The Indians were swept in a three game series by the Atlanta Braves.
The strong performance by the bullpen kept the Tigers within striking distance. Recent call up, Luke Putkonen, pitched two scoreless innings in relief striking out four. Jose Veras added a perfect 8th and Joaquin Benoit pitched a scoreless 9th. The game was Benoit’s fourth win bringing his record to 4-0. The Tigers starters need to get back on track after that tough series against Oakland. Starting pitching is one of the team’s major strengths and will be needed come playoff time.
The one note of concern from the game was the injury to Miguel Cabrera. He left in the bottom of the third after a slide into second where he tried to stretch a single into a double. Cabrera later stated that he is alright and said he plans on playing Friday. The offense may have won this one without Cabrera but you would be crazy to think this offense doesn’t need him.
With roster callups coming, you can expect to see more frequent rest for the slugger in preparation for the playoffs. Rosters expand on September 1st to 40. Jim Leyland has said he has already selected who will be called up but didn’t announce who. These callups should help the bullpen as well as increase the defensive depth.
The Tigers start a 3 game home series against Cleveland on Friday.