Tigers have 'wheels back on' after sweeping Indians
Jun 22, 2014 at 5:18p ET
The Detroit Tigers had some table-turning symmetry working their way Sunday in Cleveland.
After allowing seven runs in his last start, Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer was the beneficiary of a seven-run fifth inning in a 10-4 win over the Indians.
And after getting swept in three games one month ago in Cleveland to begin a 9-20 skid and a four-game losing streak, Detroit swept the Tribe over three games to make it a four-game winning streak.
Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos said, "This is where it all started. So, to come back here and get three...this is huge."
And, coupled with the Royals getting swept in three games at Kansas City by the Seattle Mariners this weekend, Detroit has a 2 1/2 game lead on the Royals after coming to Cleveland in second place.
"I guess you could say the wheels are back on," Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler told FOX Sports Detroit's Trevor Thompson. "Is that proper?"
It is for a team that had gone 50 weeks without dropping out of first place until spending three days in second place last week.
The Tigers batted .353 (6-for-17) with runners in scoring position on Sunday.
"We got some big hits," said Detroit manager Brad Ausmus, "and we got some big doubles."
Kinsler celebrated his 32nd birthday with three hits, two runs scored and one batted in. And Miguel Cabrera belted his 13th homer and knocked in three runs with two hits.
However, it was Scherzer's performance that meant the most for Detroit. He made it a fourth consecutive quality start for the Tigers, who have a 1.38 ERA by starters in those games.
Kinsler noted, "Starting pitching makes the world go 'round."
After posting a 1.83 ERA in his first nine starts and beginning to look like a repeat Cy Young Award winner, Scherzer had a 7.09 ERA in his last six starts. He matched his career-worst outing of four years ago by allowing 10 runs the last time out against Kansas City. The dominator had become the dominated.
But Scherzer allowed one run on six hits on Sunday, and struck out eight with only two walks. He relied more on his fastball than he had been, and had a changeup that appeared to be dropping off a table to hitters. Seven of Scherzer's strikeouts came on swing-and-miss third strikes.
He set the tone in the first inning, when the Indians threatened but could not score.
Scherzer walked speedy leadoff hitter Michael Bourn and Michael Brantley's one-out single opened the door to doubt: Here we go again?
"It could've gone south there," said J.D. Martinez. "But he just battled."
"Max did a good job," said Ausmus. "His pitch count went up, but he was able to get through six innings with a quality start."
Scherzer needed 114 pitches to get 18 outs.
He also got through two other rallies by allowing only one run, and survived a liner by Lonnie Chisenhall to complete a scoreless sixth inning.
"That one hurt," said Scherzer. "I took it off the side of the (right) knee."
However, Scherzer didn't doubt that he would make his next start. He expected a patch put over the injured area, which he said catcher Alex Avila swears by, to do the trick.
"They have some miracle cure in there," Scherzer said.
Still, how the knee feels on Monday will be important in determining whether or not he will make his next start.
Scherzer had plenty of breathing room after going up 9-0 in the fifth inning, when errors by Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and center fielder Bourn opened the gate to seven runs.
"They made a few mistakes," Scherzer said, "and we made them pay."
The wheels, like Kinsler pointed out, were back on the Tigers' victory machine.
"They put it to us the last time we were here," said J.D. Martinez. "So, we came ready this time."