SEATTLE (AP) — Detroit catcher Brayan Pena held onto Prince Fielder’s relay throw and absorbed a collision with Justin Smoak at home plate for the final out, and the Tigers outlasted the Seattle Mariners 2-1 in 14 innings Wednesday night.Smoak singled with one out off Joaquin Benoit, and with two outs Dustin Ackley doubled into the right-field corner. Third base coach Jeff Datz didn’t hesitate in waiving Smoak around with the potential tying run.
Torii Hunter started the relay from the outfield, and Fielder’s throw was up the third base line a bit. Pena, however, caught it in plenty of time and held onto the ball during the collision.
Lying face down in the dirt, Pena held up the ball in his bare hand to show plate umpire Bob Davidson and shook his fist in triumph before teammates helped him up.
Detroit took the lead in the top of the 14th when Pena’s bases-loaded groundout scored pinch-runner Don Kelly. The conclusion came long after starters Felix Hernandez and Max Scherzer pitched gems in a game that included a whopping 40 strikeouts.
Drew Smyly (1-0), the seventh of eight Tigers pitchers, worked the 13th inning for the victory. Benoit earned his first save of the season.
According to the Mariners, it was the second time in major league history that both teams had more than 18 strikeouts. The only other time was June 16, 2001, when the Giants and Padres both struck out 20 times in a 15-inning game.
Detroit batters tied the team record for most strikeouts in a game with 21 — five by Fielder, who was hitless in six at-bats.
Victor Martinez opened the 14th with a single on a 1-2 pitch from Seattle reliever Charlie Furbush. Kelly entered as a pinch-runner and Matt Tuiasosopo walked on a 3-2 pitch to put two on with no outs.
Furbush (0-1) was replaced by Blake Beavan, making just the second relief appearance of his career. Jhonny Peralta got down a sacrifice bunt and Seattle catcher Jesus Montero opted to go to third to try for the lead runner. Kelly beat the throw, loading the bases with no outs.
Pena, who struck out three times, hit a grounder up the middle against a drawn-in infield and shortstop Robert Andino made a diving stop. But his only play was to first base and Kelly scored to break the tie.
Hernandez and Scherzer almost became afterthoughts thanks to the long night, but their performances will be tough to top the rest of the season.
Both pitchers finished with 12 strikeouts. Each threw eight strong innings. And neither could get help from their respective offenses to get the victory.
According to the Mariners, with information from the Elias Sports Bureau, the performance by Scherzer and Hernandez was the first time two starters had at least 12 strikeouts and allowed no more than one earned run since Randy Johnson and Mark Langston hooked up in 1992.
How good were Scherzer and Hernandez? Scherzer threw 105 pitches with 75 strikes; Hernandez threw 106 with 76 strikes.
Hernandez retired 12 of his first 13 batters, including six strikeouts. The only one to reach was Miguel Cabrera, who dumped a single in front of Franklin Gutierrez in right-center with two outs in the first.
The 12 strikeouts for Hernandez were the most since his perfect game against Tampa Bay last August when he also struck out 12. It was Hernandez’s ninth career start with 12 or more strikeouts. He was replaced to start the ninth by closer Tom Wilhelmsen. Hernandez gave up four hits and didn’t walk a batter.
While Hernandez was rolling, Scherzer was just as good. He retired the first nine and didn’t allow a runner until Gutierrez reached on an infield single leading off the fourth. Seattle finally got to Scherzer in the seventh when Michael Morse led off with a double and Raul Ibanez followed with a single to tie it at 1.
Scherzer set a season-high with his 12 strikeouts. He had 11 against Oakland in his previous start.
Detroit’s only run off Hernandez was unearned, after Martinez reached on shortstop Brendan Ryan’s error to open the fifth inning and scored on Peralta’s groundout.
The Mariners had runners in scoring position in the eighth, ninth and 10th.
NOTES: It was the first time since Safeco Field opened in July 1999 that both starting pitchers had 10 or more strikeouts. … RHP Jose Valverde pitched for the Tigers’ extended spring training squad in Florida vs. the Braves. He pitched a scoreless inning with one strikeout. … At Triple-A Tacoma, Carlos Truinfel needed just five innings to hit for the cycle. He was the first Tacoma player to hit for the cycle since Ibanez in 1997.