Baseball / Sports

Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer works against the Tampa Bay Rays in the second inning on Thursday, July 3, 2014, at Comerica Park in Detroit. (Kirthmon F. Dozier/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

Tigers rediscover homers, beat Rays, 8-1

DETROIT -- Earlier this season, the Detroit Tigers went 38 straight games without hitting more than two homers in a game.

That's almost one-fourth of the season.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, it was their second-longest such streak since they got good again -- i.e., since the start of the 2006 season.

And coming into Thursday night, even though they had been hot, the Tigers hadn't hit three homers in any of their last 10 games.

The Tigers launched three homers Thursday night -- in the first inning. The blows were worth five runs and sent Max Scherzer to an 8-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a four-game series. The Tigers improved to 12-2 since their 9-20 dip.

Scherzer gave up a run in the first, then blanked Tampa Bay on one hit for his remaining seven innings. His yield of two hits in eight innings matched the fewest hits he's allowed in a start of more than six innings in his career.

The last time the Tigers had hit three homers in the first inning was on June 18, 2006, at Wrigley Field. Those first-inning blows by Curtis Granderson (leadoff), Carlos Guillen (three-run) and Chris Shelton (two-run) gave Kenny Rogers the huge cushion that he turned into his 200th career victory.

Austin Jackson, looking comfortable back in the leadoff spot, singled to open the first Thursday night off veteran left-hander Erik Bedard, and Ian Kinsler homered to left. Miguel Cabrera walked, and Victor Martinez -- who'd missed the last three games with a sore side--homered to left. J.D. Martinez, added to the team in April to address the power deficit, flied out. The irony of that out increased when Torii Hunter homered to left-center.

Jackson singled in the second for his second straight multi-hit game at leadoff. Until these last two games, he'd gone four straight starts without a hit.

Tampa Bay scored in the first when Desmond Jennings led off with a ground-ball double down the left-field line and came around on a pair of fly balls. In the bottom of the inning, the Tigers would hit longer fly balls.

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