July 30, 2014 at 11:53 pm

Tigers 7, White Sox 2

After Tigers' 6-run first, Max Scherzer makes short work of Sox to snap 4-game skid

Detroit — Couldn’t decide, could you?

You had your choice of Tigers’ games to attend — Tuesday night or Wednesday night. A buddy couldn’t use his tickets.

If you opted for Tuesday night, you chose poorly.

If you opted for Wednesday night’s game, you chose wisely.

Because on Wednesday night, the Tigers handed Max Scherzer a six-run lead in the first inning en route to a 7-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox — ending the Tigers’ four-game losing streak.

And on Tuesday night, well, uh, why stir that up again? Other than to say the Tigers allowed seven runs in the seventh inning of an 11-4 loss, and that Joakim Soria didn’t pitch well in his home debut as a Tiger, why rub it in?

The Tuesday nighters saw a bummer. Case closed.

The Wednesday nighters caught more than a glimpse at why the Tigers, despite huffing and puffing at times, still are the premier team of the American League Central.

They are because they can so often rebound with a quality pitcher on the mound — while the White Sox (sorry, Hector) could only hope for the best from Hector Noesi.

To his immense credit, Noesi (5-7) didn’t call it quits after being pummeled in the first. In fact, he shut the Tigers down for the five innings after that.

To his immenser credit, though — if there is such a word, which surprisingly there is — Scherzer didn’t pitch as if he had a 6-0 lead after the first inning.

He pitched as if it were a close game all the way. After five innings, for instance, he had faced the minimum number of batters, meaning 15.

Scherzer allowed two hits in the first five innings, but the White Sox also had hit into two double plays.

It was a bit more of a struggle for him after that, such as allowing a run in the seventh, but nothing that would come close to lessening the overall way he pitched.

“If you score six runs in the seventh,” said manager Brad Ausmus, “you’re a little more comfortable than when you score six in the first.

“But Max did a really nice job — especially with the location of his fastball, up and down in the zone where he wanted it and on the corners.”

“I pounded the strike zone, throwing 20 of 25 first-pitch strikes,” Scherzer said. “When you do that, you put them on their heels.”

The victory was Scherzer’s fifth without a loss in his last seven starts. He’s 13-3 after 22 starts — which isn’t the same as being 16-1 after 22 starts (like last year) — but pretty darn good.

“Throw the records out, I’m pitching as well,” Scherzer said. “My off-speed pitches are moving the way I want them to. My fastball has life. I’m throwing the ball as well as I ever have.”

But without further ado, let’s get to the other reason the Tigers won — and that was their six-spot they put in the first inning.

The Tigers went into this game with a 40-4 record when scoring five or more runs. So with a quick six, they had to like their chances.

It began, oddly enough, with Austin Jackson taking a called third strike. And when Ian Kinsler fell behind with a 0-2 count, it briefly looked like Noesi might have an easy first inning.

Anything but.

Kinsler singled on the next pitch. Then Miguel Cabrera walked – and the parade commenced.

Victor Martinez singled in Kinsler.

Torii Hunter singled in Cabrera.

And with a ground ball beyond the limited reach of shortstop Alexei Ramirez, J.D. Martinez singled in Victor Martinez.

Some shortstops would have turned the hit into a double play, ending the inning, but Ramirez did not.

Back in the lineup after missing a game with a bruised right index finger, Nick Castellanos hit a three-run home run to right on Noesi’s first pitch to him, accounting for the Tigers’ fourth, fifth and sixth run of the first inning.

“With my finger being hurt on my top hand,” said Castellanos, “I had to use more bottom hand on my swing. But it worked out fine.”

“He even hinted in batting practice,” said Ausmus, “that his finger issue might have helped his swing.”

The Tigers’ seventh run wouldn’t arrive until the seventh when Castellanos singled with two outs to give him his first four-RBI game as a major-leaguer.

But he reacted visibly to the hit for another reason.

“I was kind of upset with myself after (striking out with the bases loaded in) my second at-bat.

“It’s your job as a hitter with less than two outs to get that run in. So, I looked at it as a chance to redeem myself.”

The Tigers had 13 hits, though, so more than one hitter had a good night. Three Tigers had two hits each, and Hunter had three.

Plus he also scored twice.

Adam Dunn accounted for the second White Sox run with a one-out home run off Al Alburquerque in the ninth.

But that also ended the scoring.

So, yes, if you opted for Wednesday night, you chose wisely.



Tigers' J.D. Martinez, center, congratulates Nick Castellanos on Castellanos' three-run home run in the first inning. The Tigers defeated the White Sox 7-2 Wednesday to end a four-game losing streak. / Robin Buckson / Detroit News