Detroit — The Tigers should see if the Red Sox can stay in town a little longer, at least for another week or so.
The Tigers defeated the Red Sox, 8-6, on Saturday night before a standing-room-only crowd of 43,359 at Comerica Park to push their season’s record to 5-0 against Boston after losing in last year’s ALCS.
The Tigers get one more game against the Red Sox who have lost five straight — Sunday night, in an ESPN-televised game.
Detroit won Saturday night, despite another tough outing from closer Joe Nathan.
It was the Tigers’ second straight win overall, coming on the heels of a five-game losing streak and a stretch where they dropped 13 of 17 games. It also marks their first series win since a three-game sweep at Boston in mid-May.,
“Right now, we need to win series, that’s the name of the game,” said Max Scherzer, who improved to 7-2. “That’s our team focus, keep it short-term, pick up these series because when you do that, that’s when you go on a roll and they’re the defending world champs so if we can get a series on them, that’s a great thing.”
The Tigers roughed up Red Sox veteran left-hander Jon Lester. They scored two runs in the opening inning, then added single runs in the second, third and fourth — highlighted by home runs from 22-year-old rookies Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez, also his first MLB hit — to give Scherzer some room to work with.
Suarez homered in his third major-league at-bat, making him the fastest Tiger to homer since Dusty Ryan did it in his second in 2008.
So, how bad was Lester’s night? Well, 13 of their 25 batters reached base against him — including two homers, three doubles and seven singles — before he was removed with one out in the fifth inning of a 5-2 game.
“We swung the bat well and obviously Lester wasn’t on his game because when he is that’s not going to happen,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “We certainly swung the bats well and took advantage of some pitches that were left over the plate.”
The Tigers started their scoring when Miguel Cabrera doubled with two outs and scored on Victor Martinez’s double. Torii Hunter followed with an RBI single.
Cabrera led the Tigers’ 16-hit attack with a 3-for-3 night with two doubles and a single. Castellanos had a homer and two singles for his third straight three-hit night. Austin Jackson busted out of a 15-for-90 slump with three singles.
Scherzer, who failed to collect win No. 7 in his previous three attempts, limited the Red Sox to four runs on nine hits, striking out nine while allowing one walk.
It was a big outing for Scherzer, whose previous win came against the Red Sox, 1-0 in Boston May 16.
In between the two wins over the Red Sox, Scherzer’s ERA was over 7.00 in three starts, allowing 16 earned runs and 29 hits in 19.2 innings in games at Cleveland (May 21), Oakland (May 27) and Seattle (June 1).
Scherzer struck out five in the first three innings, including a called third strike on a 96-mph fastball on Brock Holt to end the third.
Scherzer had set down nine straight before Dustin Pedroia’s home run to left with an out in the fourth to pull the Red Sox within 4-1. He then fanned David Ortiz, the next batter, on a 96-mph fastball.
Scherzer also gave up single runs in the fifth and sixth, but escaped further trouble when he struck out Xander Bogaerts to strand a runner in scoring position in the fifth and fanned David Ross to strand another runner on third in the sixth.
“I thought I had great stuff tonight,” Scherzer said. “I really thought all four of my pitches were really the best I had thrown all year. I made a tweak a couple of starts ago mechanically, I made a tweak off of that and I really thought that allowed me to have good life on the pitches tonight.”
Ausmus had a meeting with Scherzer when the Red Sox had runners on first and second in the seventh with two outs and Ortiz at the plate. His pitch count was at 110. Scherzer lobbied to stay in, and Ausmus allowed him to.
Ortiz slammed a 3-1 pitch the opposite way off the left field fence for an RBI double to cut the deficit to 7-4, knocking Scherzer out of the game and bringing in Al Alburquerque to face the tying run at the plate in Grady Sizemore.
Sizemore grounded out to first to end the threat.
“He threw well,” Ausmus said of Scherzer. “He ended up giving up four, but the big thing for me with starting pitchers, they need to give you a chance to win the game.
“I had the option of having (left-handed reliever Phil) Coke ready for Ortiz right there, but it was more Max, what he said to me and the look on his face that changed my mind, gave him the opportunity to get Ortiz.
“I liked the fact he wanted to go after one of the best hitters in the game even though he was over 100 pitches. It didn’t work out, but it shows there’s a fire there.”
Joba Chamberlain worked a scoreless eighth and Nathan closed out the game with a shaky ninth, allowing two runs and four hits.
He got Stephen Drew to fly out with the potential tying run on base.