The Detroit Tigers have been struggling as of late, seeing their lead in the American League Central taken over by the surging Kansas City Royals who have been one of the hottest teams in the Major Leagues over the last few weeks.
Detroit traveled to Tampa Bay for the first of a three game series against the Rays who have been playing better recently.
Scherzer on the mound
The Tigers handed the ball to Max Scherzer who was looking to become the American Leagues first 15-game winner. Scherzer pitched well, allowing four runs over seven innings and striking out nine. J.D. Martinez belted a solo home run to center field in the top of the eighth inning to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead and put Scherzer in line for the win, but Joba Chamberlain gave up a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning that tied the game.
The game would remain tied until the 11th inning when Ian Kinsler opened the inning with a leadoff triple off Grant Balfour. Torii Hunter walked, and Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked for the second time in the game, which loaded the bases for Victor Martinez who broke the tie with a walk. Hunter later scored on a wild pitch, and catcher Bryan Holaday added a sacrifice fly that scored Cabrera and gave Detroit a 8-5 lead.
Got the save
The recently acquired Jim Johnson worked a two-on, two-out jam in the 10th inning. The Tigers handed the ball over to Joe Nathan who has remained the team's closer, despite having a dreadful season. Nathan took the mound with the three-run lead and gave up an RBI single off the bat of Evan Longoria before earning his 26th save of the year.
Tampa Bay saw its club-record stretch of 13 consecutive games holding opponents to four runs or fewer end when Martinez homered in the eighth.
The Rays have just activated Wil Myers from the disabled list and expect him back this week, which will be a nice boost to an offense that has struggled.
Wild card race
With the win, Detroit, which is currently second in the American League wild card chase, and two games back of the Royals in the American League Central, won for just the fifth time in their last 13 games.
Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who is nursing a sore right shoulder, could throw off a mound in a couple of days and may start Saturday in Minnesota.