DETROIT – Max Scherzer could have probably pitched one more inning after breezing through the first eight.
Detroit’s powerful offense made that unnecessary.
Scherzer gave up two hits and struck out seven, and the Tigers backed their star right-hander with three early homers in an 8-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night.
With a big lead and Scherzer’s pitch count in triple digits, manager Brad Ausmus decided to go to the bullpen for the ninth inning, instead of sending his starter back to the mound for three more outs.
I had it in me to be able to do it, and I had an extra day (of rest) coming up this next time, Scherzer said. But given the context of the game, it wasn’t the right decision for me to go back out there. It’s an 8-1 game. I’ve got my work in.
Scherzer retired 23 of the last 24 hitters he faced, and Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter all homered as part of a five-run first inning for the Tigers, who have won 12 of 14.
Tampa Bay’s five-game winning streak came to an end. Bishop Luers grad Kevin Kiermaier went 0 for 3 with a strikeout for the Rays.
Detroit leads second-place Kansas City by five games in the AL Central.
Scherzer (10-3) allowed a first-inning sacrifice fly by Evan Longoria, but that was the first of 10 straight hitters retired by the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. After giving up a single in the fourth, Scherzer retired 13 more in a row before he was pulled with a pitch count of 106. Ausmus met Scherzer in the dugout and shook his hand.
He was done. I was just confirming to him that he was done, Ausmus said. It didn’t really matter what he said. That was going to be the end for him. There was no reason to send him back out at that point.
YANKEES 7, TWINS 4: In Minneapolis, Carlos Beltran hit a three-run homer to lift Masahiro Tanaka to his major league-leading 12th win and help New York end a season-worst five-game skid. Zelous Wheeler homered in his big-league debut after eight years in the minors.
ORIOLES 5, RANGERS 2: In Baltimore, Steve Pearce had a career-high four hits and drove in two runs, and Wei-Yin Chen shut down Texas as Baltimore completed a four-game sweep.
ATHLETICS 4, BLUE JAYS 1: In Oakland, California, Sonny Gray gave up four hits over seven innings to lead Oakland.
CARDINALS 7, GIANTS 2: In San Francisco, Jhonny Peralta hit a two-run homer among his two hits and Carlos Martinez earned his second win as a starter as St. Louis won its second straight and handed San Francisco its 17th loss in 22 games.
PHILLIES 5, MARLINS 4: In Miami, Ben Revere scored the go-ahead run when Miami second baseman Donovan Solano bobbled a grounder in the ninth, as Philadelphia rallied to snap a six-game losing streak.
DIAMONDBACKS 10, PIRATES 2: In Pittsburgh, David Peralta had three hits, including a two-run homer, and drove in four runs as Arizona avoided a series sweep. The Diamondbacks, who didn’t get a hit until the sixth inning, scored three runs in the sixth and seven in the ninth.
DODGERS 3, ROCKIES 2: In Denver, Zack Greinke pitched eight solid innings, and Juan Uribe hit the go-ahead single in the ninth inning to lift Los Angeles.