Scherzer, Tigers turn tables on Jackson
No-hit into the sixth, Detroit surges with six-run seventh inning
CHICAGO -- The second duel in as many weeks between Edwin Jackson and Max Scherzer yielded a decisive winner. Surprisingly, it was not the one who took a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
Jackson was 10 outs away from his second no-no of the season, holding down the team that traded him to Arizona last December. By the ninth inning Friday night, the Tigers were a hit away from 10 runs. The Tigers seemed as surprised as anybody about that turn of events that led to their 9-2 victory over the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
"When I hit that ball to third base [and saw Brent Morel make a diving stop and throw for the out]," Brandon Inge said, "I'm thinking, 'Oh man. He's pitching well and the guys behind him are making good plays. He's going to be tough to get a hit off of.'"
Inge wasn't the only one.
"He was throwing me a couple pitches today that he hadn't thrown me all year," Austin Jackson said. "I thought he threw me a sinkerball one time, and then I saw a cutter. I was like, 'What is going on?' I'm looking for this pitch and he throws [another] one. And then it looked like he threw me a splitty. I was like, 'What? Is he making up pitches out there?'"
Austin Jackson broke up the no-hit bid by legging out an infield single in the sixth. The next time he came to bat, his two-run homer capped a six-run seventh inning. In between, Edwin Jackson suffered cramps that eventually led to his exit, and Detroit's ensuing hit barrage led to a White Sox bullpen collapse.
"He had a no-hitter going and he had no-hitter stuff," manager Jim Leyland said. "Certainly we were aware of it. I don't know what happened to Edwin that one inning, but we were able to jump on him that inning and get some runs."
Scherzer, meanwhile, overcame a pair of 400-foot home runs to throw eight dominant innings. Appropriately, his first career win against the White Sox ended up being his first win opposite the man whose rotation spot he took.
Nine months after Scherzer came to Detroit in the trade that sent Edwin Jackson to Arizona, the two finished with almost identical pitching lines in no-decisions Sept. 6 at Comerica Park. That game ended up decided by the bullpens in the White Sox favor, the only win they got out of that four-game series in their faltering effort to chase the Twins in the American League Central race.
This week's Twins sweep of the White Sox took the postseason implications largely out of this rematch, but Edwin Jackson's first five innings put a chance at history on the line. Two walks to Ryan Raburn and a first-inning walk to Johnny Damon comprised all of Detroit's baserunners off of their former teammate heading into the sixth.
It was the fourth time Edwin Jackson has faced the Tigers this year, and the third time with the White Sox, but familiarity did Detroit little good Friday the way he was throwing. Jackson had already no-hit one of his old teams this summer when he blanked Tampa Bay, and Detroit looked next in line.
"That's the best [we've seen him], by far," Inge said. "I'm looking up and he's throwing 97. And then at one point, I thought the gun might be off and then I saw Scherzer go out and throw 94, and I was like, 'Wait a minute. It's not off.' That was pretty impressive.
'I know [Jackson's] got a slider. I know he's got a fastball. I don't expect him to throw a changeup. He threw me a changeup a couple times, so he's inventing stuff as he goes along."
Morel's diving play to rob Inge led off the sixth, and Alex Avila flew out on the very next pitch. Up came Austin Jackson, who struck out on three pitches in his previous at-bat. He was set up to do the same thing with a 2-2 count, and he was caught indecisive on a Edwin Jackson slider.
"I knew right when I was swinging, I was swinging at a bad pitch," Austin Jackson said, "so I really didn't take a full swing. I just kind of made contact and was pretty much out of the box already, because I knew that if I didn't get out of the box fast, there was a chance that I was going to get thrown out at first."
That last factor might have been the difference between a hit and an error. It was different than some of Austin Jackson's other efforts at an infield hit this year. Leyland has pointed out more than once his struggles to get out of the batter's box quickly, but his quick jump this time allowed him to beat shortstop Alexei Ramirez's throw.
"They got more hits after that," Edwin Jackson said, "so it doesn't really matter."
Edwin Jackson got two more outs. Will Rhymes grounded out to first to end the inning, then Damon flew out to center leading off the seventh.
Three singles and a walk later, the Tigers had a tie game and had knocked out Jackson (3-2) with Jhonny Peralta's game-tying single. Scott Linebrink struck out Brandon Inge to slow the threat, but Avila's double over center fielder's Andruw Jones' head put the Tigers ahead. Austin Jackson followed with his fourth home run of the year to put the Tigers in command.
All that support rewarded Scherzer (11-10), whose only damage came on solo homers from Manny Ramirez in the fourth inning and Morel in the fifth. He grew stronger as the game went on to last eight innings with 11 strikeouts.
"I made a couple mistakes, but I made a lot of good pitches tonight," Scherzer said. "I thought those two runs were going to be the difference in the game there the way Jackson was pitching, but the rest of the team came through in that seventh inning."