One night you have the guys with impressive resumes doing it — Miguel Cabrera and Johnny Damon.
The next night, you have the guys who didn’t even know they’d be here doing it — Danny Worth and Robbie Weinhardt.
Of the differing combinations, manager Jim Leyland said, “That’s good tonic for a team.”
The Tigers completed a three-game sweep of the Orioles on Wednesday night with a 4-2 victory at Comerica Park. To give credit where it’s mostly, but not entirely, due, Max Scherzer would take a spin on the ice as the first star if this had been hockey.
And if it had been 31 outside instead of 91.
Scherzer retired the first 11 hitters, but before anyone could say “Armando?” he gave up an infield single with two outs in the fourth. But he didn’t give up his only run until the seventh — so it was a darn good game that Scherzer pitched while improving to 6-6.
Then again, he’s making darn good games more a rule than an exception these days. This was the fourth consecutive start in which he’s allowed just one run or less.
“He was aggressive and threw an easy 94-95 (mph),” said manager Jim Leyland.
“And from the second inning on, I found my slider,” Scherzer said. “I threw some good ones.”
The game was never beyond the comeback zone, however, even for the beleaguered Birds. It’s not that they can’t hit. It’s that they can’t pitch. So when you score just four runs against them, they’re in it.
The beauty-or-beast number for them is four runs. When the Orioles score four or more, they are 23-14. Fewer than four, they are an odorous 2-45.
That’s why it was imperative, with a tired bullpen, for Scherzer to give the Tigers not just six-plus innings, but strong innings.
This, however, was a game in which the regular thumpers didn’t thump. Just one RBI, and that one on a groundout, from the 3-4-5 spots.
Saying later he’s never hit home runs anywhere, not even in Little League — while a nearby Brennan Boesch said “don’t let him fool you, he’s got some pop” — Worth doubled the Tigers’ lead with his first major league home run in the third.
The Tigers have been pleased with Worth, more for skills such as his quick release on a double play in the seventh than his power, but the early jury is still out on him.
“He’s a nice prospect,” Leyland said. “It’s pretty simple. If he hits, he’s a regular. If he doesn’t hit, he’s probably a utility player.”
Phil Coke got the save, his first as a Tiger. But it came after Weinhardt’s major league debut, something he was kidded about in the bullpen as likely to happen in this game. But when it actually did happen, “I was pretty nervous,” Weinhardt said.
But a double-play on which Weinhardt hustled to first –to the tune of Gerald Laird’s urging, as in “get over, get over” — and actually caught the ball settled him down.
The smile on Weinhardt’s face after the play was because he hadn’t caught the ball at first base the last time he pitched for the Tigers — in an exhibition tune-up in Milwaukee after the team left Florida.
“I couldn’t miss this one, too,” he said.
And he didn’t miss this one, too. Instead he made the play, contributed to the win and felt as good afterward, maybe even better, than the guys who are more frequent reasons the Tigers win.