After going 2-7 and vanquishing their AL Central lead on their most recent road trip, the Detroit Tigers (65-54) fueled up on some home cooking and were able to sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates (64-57) out of town after a 5-2 win on Thursday afternoon at Comerica Park.
In an absolutely lights-out performance on the mound, Max Scherzer (14-4, 2.98) turned in arguably his best performance of the season. The Tigers' starter was a surgeon over eight innings, allowing just three Pirates' hits, and keeping the visitors off the scoreboard. The righty also struck out a season-high 14 batters, eight of whom went down through just the first three innings of work.
Since surrendering 10 runs on 10 hits back on 6/17 agains the Royals, Scherzer has only allowed more than two runs in one of his succeeding 10 starts.
Scherzer's afternoon start put him in an exclusive club, as he joined Mickey Lolich as the only other pitcher in Tigers history to throw eight scoreless innings while striking out 14 batters and surrendering three or fewer hits in a game.
In his own impressive start which left Tigers' batters standing mezmorized, Pirates' starter Fransisco Liriano (3-9, 3.78 ERA) silenced Detroit's offensive efforts in the early innings. The Tigers were able wake up their bats, as J.D. Martinez (16) broke up Liriano's no-hitter bid in the fifth inning with a home run to left field that gave Detroit a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers added a run in the sixth inning adter JD Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk for his second RBI of the afternoon, plating Rajai Davis.
The two-run Tigers' lead had some insurance added to it with Detroit scoring three runs in the eighth inning off Pittsburgh reliever Brandon Cumpton.
A two-run home run by pinch hitter Gabby Sanchez off Phil Coke cut the Tigers' lead to 5-2, but Joba Chamberlain entered for Detroit and effeciently picked up the last two outs to seal a three run victory.
The win for the Tigers closed a .5 game gap and drew them even with the Kansas City Royals for the lead in the AL Central (with KC still in action at the time of publishing).