The rubber match of the series started off as a pitchers duel and then slowly slipped into a boring loss. Probably the Rays players were looking ahead to the draft. Or maybe Max Scherzer was just a little bit better than Roberto Hernandez.
Through three innings, both pitchers kept a clean sheet. Scherzer struck out four Rays batters, while Hernandez struck out three Tigers, and induced four groundouts. From that point, though, their lines diverged. Hernandez started off the fourth by striking out Miguel Cabrera with a filthy changeup (after a steady diet of sinkers). Prince Fielder knocked a single into left field though, and Hernandez gave Victor Martinez a meatball of a sinker right down the middle that V-Mart made him pay on with a two-run homer.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Tigers tagged on another run. Don Kelly grounded a single through the right side, and then advanced to second on a groundout. The ever dangerous Miguel Cabrera hit a sinking liner into right field. Matt Joyce made a game dive at it, but couldn't corral. It squirted past him (Jennings backed him up), but Kelly was able to score from second. Had Joyce played the bounce, there would likely have been a play at the plate.
A walk and a stolen base put Ben Zobrist in position to score on a James Loney single, but the Rays couldn't keep the door shut. Jhonny Peralta doubled in the next half inning, and while Hernandez struck out Alex Avila, Omar Infante singled to put runners at the corners. Hernandez had only thrown 84 pitches, and really wasn't pitching badly, but Joe Maddon saw an opportunity where he needed a strikeout to keep the game close. He put in his best strikeout pitcher, Jake McGee, and didn't get the desired result. Sacrifice fly, lead stretched.
Zobrist and Loney combined to score another run, but there was no comeback in the works.
Hernandez once again pitched decently, with one walk, and six strikeouts in 5.1 innings, but the Tigers just got too many hits (10) for sequencing to be kind. His best pitch was once again his changeup, producing eight whiffs in 29 tries. Scherzer was better, with nine strikeouts in seven innings of works, but that's not surprising. Scherzer is better.
It's draft day, though, so I don't have the time to worry about a boring loss to a good Detroit offense. Complain here, or go read our draft coverage. We just picked Ryne Stanek!