Max Scherzer fell three outs short of the second complete game of his career, but he might have been even more dominant than he was in his shutout on May 12.
Scherzer allowed only two hits and one walk in his eight innings. It was only the second time in his career that he allowed three or fewer baserunners while recording at least 21 outs. He had an identical line – 8 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 7 K – against the Cleveland Indians last May.
He did it with a much more effective fastball than over the last month. While posting a 4.81 ERA in June, he threw fastballs at least half the time in every game and 27 percent of his heaters were up in the zone. On Thursday, under half of his pitches were fastballs and on 19 percent were up.
Due to the better location, opposing hitters were only 1-for-14 with four strikeouts against his heater. During June, opponents hit .263 against his fastball.
It was Scherzer’s fourth straight win against the Rays after going 0-2 in his first three starts against Tampa Bay.
It was over when...
The Tigers scored five runs in the first inning. The Rays have been held to four or fewer runs in each of their last 19 meetings against Detroit.
Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter all hit home runs in the first inning. The Tigers are just the sixth team to hit three homers in an inning this season and the second to do so in the first (the other is the Los Angeles Angels on April 13 against the New York Mets).