Tigers 9, White Sox 2
Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland is starting to see some benefits from an important offseason trade.
Max Scherzer struck out 11 in eight innings and Alex Avila hit a go-ahead two-run double in the seventh to lead the Tigers to a 9-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Friday night.
Austin Jackson had a two-run homer and Jhonny Peralta had an RBI single in a six-run seventh inning for the Tigers, who won for the second time in six games. Peralta finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs.
Scherzer (11-10) allowed two hits - solo homers to Manny Ramirez and Brent Morel. After giving up Morel's in the fifth, Scherzer settled down to retire 10 of the last 11 batters he faced.
''He's been one of the best pitchers in the league. We think we've got something, obviously. It's nice to have. The biggest thing for Scherzer is that he's not afraid to throw any of his pitches at any time,'' Leyland said.
Scherzer was acquired last December in a three-way trade that sent Curtis Granderson to the New York Yankees, Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Tigers.
The trade has certainly paid off for the Tigers thanks to emergence of Austin Jackson and Scherzer. Scherzer dropped his ERA to 3.54 and Jackson is hitting over .300 in the leadoff spot.
After a devastating three-game sweep to Minnesota, the White Sox continued to fade in the AL Central by losing its fourth straight game and eighth of 10.
Ramirez snapped an 84 at-bat homerless streak in the fourth inning with his first homer since June 19 at Boston while a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was Ramirez's first extra base hit since the White Sox acquired him off waivers Aug. 30.
''I'm just trying to find that feel that I always have all year round,'' Ramirez said. ''I'm just going to go out there and swing and see what happens and stay aggressive.''
The Tigers didn't get their first hit off Edwin Jackson (3-2) until there were two outs in the sixth inning. But it quickly unraveled for Jackson an inning later, who started to experience cramps in his right calf during his warmup pitches before the seventh inning. Jackson was visited by team trainer Herm Schneider during his warm up and insisted to stay in game.
Pitching with a 2-0 lead in the seventh, Jackson allowed a single to Miguel Cabrera with one out. Cabrera advanced to third on Don Kelly's single. During Ryan Raburn's at-bat, Cabrera scored on Jackson's wild pitch and Kelly went to second. After walking Raburn, Jackson's night ended after giving up an RBI single to Peralta to tie the game.
Jackson said he did feel the affects of the cramps in the seventh.
''A little bit, but I'm not the one to make excuses. If I'm going to stay out there I have to get the job done, but I could feel it,'' Jackson said.
Scott Linebrink relieved Jackson and struck out Brandon Inge, but Avila tagged Linebrink for a double to score Raburn and Peralta, giving the Tigers a 4-2 lead. Jackson ended Linebrink's night with his fourth home run of the season to make it 6-2.
''I actually didn't know it was gone. I was looking for it and thought it bounced over,'' Jackson said.
Jackson pitched 6 1-3 innings, allowing four runs and four hits.
''It was a great game until the sixth,'' White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. ''Jackson has been throwing the ball very good for us. He just had one bad inning.''
Peralta and Inge hit consecutive RBI doubles in the ninth and Will Rhymes added a sacrifice fly.
Morel gave Jackson and the White Sox an insurance run in the fifth inning with his second home run of the season.
''I made a couple mistakes but I also made some good pitches tonight,'' Scherzer said. ''The two runs I thought were going to be the difference tonight the way Jackson was pitching, but the team came through in the seventh inning, had a big inning.''
With two outs in the sixth, Jackson hit a slow bouncer to shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who slightly bobbled the ball allowing Jackson to just beat Ramirez's throw at first for the Tigers' first hit of the game.
Jackson said he wasn't have any flashback to his June 25th no-hitter for Arizona at Tampa Bay.
''When you're out there a no-hitter is the last thing on your mind, you just want to go out and give your team a chance to win. No-hitters, those things you can't try to do, they just happen. You go out there and continue to pitch, if it happens, it's meant to be, if it doesn't you just want to give your team a chance to win,'' he said.
With two outs in the fourth, Ramirez ended his home run drought, hitting Scherzer's 1-1 changeup into the left-field stands. It was ninth home run of the season and 555th of his career.
After the game, Leyland said Phil Coke will take over the closer duties as Jose Valverde deals with unspecified issues. Leyland refused to get into specifics regarding Valverde.
''He's not right. He's not available until I say he can pitch,'' Leyland said.
NOTES: One night after getting hit in the face by a pitch from Twins starter Carl Pavano, White Sox 1B Paul Konerko had the night off. Konerko was sporting a fat lip on Friday. White Sox C A.J. Pierzynski and INF Omar Vizquel also had the night off. ... White Sox RHP Lucas Harrell will start in place of Freddy Garcia (back) on Saturday.