Scherzer breezes through 8, Tigers beat Rays 8-1
JUL 03, 2014 10:03p ET
DETROIT -- Apparently, Jenny is a Tigers fan.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon, trying to keep his team's five-game winning streak alive, turned his batting order into a tribute to one of his favorite 1980s hits -- "867-5309" by Tommy Tutone.
Madden arranged the first seven players in his lineup so that their defensive positions would match the phone number in the song, and erased any idea that it might be an accident by blaring the tune in his office before the game.
It didn't work.
Alex Jackson singled and Ian Kinsler homered. Miguel Cabrera walked and Victor Martinez, quickly picking up the pattern, hit his 21st homer of the season to give Detroit a 4-1 lead before Bedard had gotten an out.
He finally did that, inducing a fly out from J.D. Martinez, but Torii Hunter didn't miss a beat, hitting Detroit's third homer of the inning to make it 5-1.
"I didn't have anything," Bedard said. "I threw one good curveball and Jackson got a hit off it. I hung the next curve, and Kinsler hit it out, and I couldn't throw another strike with it all night. I was getting behind guys, and when you do that against the Tigers lineup, you are going to get crushed."
Maddon is one of baseball's most optimistic managers, but he knew his team was in trouble.
"When they hit the first homer, I was thinking that we still had a chance, even against Max," he said. "You can give up one or two runs and still beat that guy, but when you give up five or six? Let's just say that makes it very difficult."
As it turned out, Maddon was underestimating the problems his team faced against the Tigers ace. For the last eight innings, the Rays were, like the band that had inspired their lineup, a one-hit wonder. James Loney dumped a soft single to right in the fourth inning, but he was the last baserunner the Rays had in the game.
Scherzer was sitting at 106 pitches after eight innings, and under normal circumstances, he probably would have gotten a shot at his second career complete game. With the score 8-1, though, Brad Ausmus patiently listened to Scherzer plead his case, and then did what he planned to do all along -- give rookie reliever Chad Smith an inning of work.
"He was done -- it didn't really matter what he said," Ausmus said. "I was just confirming to him that he was done. There was no reason to send him back out there at that point."
Scherzer had pointed out Monday's off-day, which will give him an extra day of rest before his next start, but he couldn't really argue with his manager's decision.
"I had it in me to pitch the ninth, and I have the extra day coming up, but given the context of the game, it was the right decision," he said. "It was 8-1, and I had gotten my work in."
So only eight innings for Scherzer, who allowed the one run on two hits and one walk while striking out seven.
That's been standard operating procedure for Scherzer lately. He pitched his first career shutout on June 12, and after an inexplicable 10-run disaster against the Royals in his next start, he's now gone 2-0 with 1.50 ERA in his last three.
With a 10-3 record, a 3.47 ERA and 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings, plus the added shine of last year's Cy Young award, Scherzer is probably heading for Minnesota and his second straight All-Star game appearance.
He'll have plenty of company -- Cabrera will be starting at first, Kinsler and Victor Martinez are likely to make the reserves and Rick Porcello has a real chance to make his All-Star debut alongside Scherzer.
Five All-Stars seem about right for a team that has shaken off the 9-20 stretch in late May and early June to go 12-2 and build a five-game lead in the AL East.