Brad Penny pitched eight shutout innings today as the Tigers dropped the Royals 3-0 for their seventh consecutive victory. Penny was masterful allowing just four hits and walking nobody. As is usually the case when he pitches well, the big right-hander was effective in keeping the ball down and induced 15 ground outs. He also received a good deal of support from his defense today with Brandon Inge, Austin Jackson, Scott Sizemore and Casper Wells makes fine plays behind him. After a slow start to the season, Penny has allowed just six runs in his last five starts to lower his season ERA to 4.11.
The Tigers used a little small ball to do all their scoring in the first inning. Jackson led off with a single and Sizemore followed with a perfect bunt single down the first base line. Ryan Raburn also attempted a bunt hit to the left side, but settled for a sacrifice putting runners on second and third. Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta followed with three consecutive singles to give the Tigers the 3-0 lead which they kept.
The Tigers are now 10-1 since May 3 and have outscored their opponents 71-34 over that stretch. They have done plenty of hitting starting with the resurgence of lead-off man Jackson - batting .328 with seven extra base hits in his last 14 games. Additionally, Victor Martinez has 7 extra base hits and 14 RBI in 7 games and the surprising Peralta is batting .429 with 4 homers in 10 games.
The big story has been the starting pitching though. Everyone knows about Justin Verlander's no hitter on May 7 and his bid for a second one five days later, but the whole staff has contributed. The Tigers starters have combined for a 1.67 ERA and only once did a starter allow more than two runs in a start during the 11 game surge (Phil Coke gave up four in the lone loss to the Blue Jays on May 6). During the stretch, they have allowed just 55 hits, 17 walks and 3 homers in 75 1/3 innings.
All is going well right now for the hottest team in baseball.