DETROIT -- On Wednesday, the Tigers jumped out to an early lead against the Rays and hoped the incoming rain would hold off long enough for the game to become official. It did not.
On Thursday, early rain may have been the Tigers' best friend, but it didn't come until it was too late. A hot Red Sox offense jumped all over the Tigers, as Detroit fell, 14-1, in a game shortened by rain to 7 1/2 innings.
The Red Sox jumped on Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer early and often, as the right-hander gave up seven runs in two-plus innings -- the shortest start of his career.
"It just wasn't Max's day," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "When he threw it good, they hit it bad but got good results, and when he threw it bad, they hit it good and got real good results."
After starting the season 6-0, Scherzer has two losses and a no-decision in his last three outings. He threw six straight balls to open the game, but got out unscathed. But things unraveled for him right as the second inning began.
Back-to-back singles by designated hitter David Ortiz and outfielder Carl Crawford were followed by an RBI double from infielder Drew Sutton. An RBI single from outfielder Josh Reddick gave Boston a 2-0 lead, and two batters later, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury blasted a three-run home run into the right-field seats to open up a 5-0 lead.
The third inning was much of the same for Scherzer. A single by first baseman Kevin Youkilis and a walk to Ortiz were followed by a two-run triple for Crawford, ending Scherzer's day.
"He just kind of struggled getting command of his pitches, falling behind a lot of guys," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. "When he did make his pitches, it seemed like it was a bloop single or an infield single or something like that. He didn't catch any breaks, where sometimes if those turn into outs, you can get rolling a little bit and kind of gain some momentum. But that didn't happen."
Scherzer has given up 14 earned runs on 22 hits over 13 1/3 innings in three career starts against the Red Sox.
"The hope is, every game you play, you get to him," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "Some days, it doesn't work. We got a lot of work and we're glad. I don't know that you expect to do that, especially with the way he's been throwing."
With the early deficit and clouds moving in, heavy rain and postponement would have seemingly been the best thing to happen for Detroit. But the early rain never came -- though the Tigers never admitted to wanting to slow the game down.
"You're never hoping for the rain," Avila said. "You want to be able to play out the games. To kind of cancel a game during the game, you never want that to happen. ... You either want to play it through or get it canceled right at the beginning before starting the game, or at least have the delay at the beginning of the game so you don't have to waste any pitchers."
The Tigers have had back-to-back outings ended early by rain. On Wednesday, the Tigers led the Rays, 2-0, in the bottom of the third inning before the game was delayed and eventually postponed. Four of the Tigers' last seven appearances at home have either been postponed or cut short.
"It's definitely frustrating, but you really can't do anything about the weather; you can't control that," outfielder Austin Jackson said. "We understand that, but we're definitely looking forward to better weather."
Scherzer was replaced by Adam Wilk, who was making his Major League debut after being called up Tuesday. Wilk retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced before finding himself in a little trouble.
Back-to-back singles by Reddick and catcher Jason Varitek led off the sixth inning for Boston. But Wilk found his composure and struck out Ellsbury and second baseman Dustin Pedroia. A fielding error by Tigers second baseman Scott Sizemore allowed an unearned run to score, but Wilk was a bright spot in an otherwise ugly game for the Tigers.
"He did fine," Leyland said. "It was his first Major League outing, and I thought he did well."
Wilk gave up just the two hits in 3 2/3 innings. A Major League debut is always a memory for players, but performing well makes it that much more special.
"It was pretty awesome running out there from the bullpen," said a grinning Wilk. "It was kind of surreal. It's always breathtaking."
The Tigers' offense put a couple rallies together, but couldn't generate many runs. Outfielder Brennan Boesch was hit by a pitch to lead off the fourth inning, and first baseman Miguel Cabrera followed with a single. Boesch advanced on a forceout at second base, and he scored two batters later on a single by Avila, as the Tigers cut the deficit to 7-1.
Detroit put runners on second and third with one out in the fifth, but a Boesch popout and Cabrera strikeout ended the closest threat the Tigers assembled the rest of the way.
Pitcher Ryan Perry came on to relieve Wilk, but his recent struggles continued.
Perry gave up four runs on four hits over 1 1/3 innings, moving his ERA on the season to 12.19. Perry's replacement, Enrique Gonzalez, also continued his struggles, giving up two runs in one inning to push his ERA up to 12.79 on the year.
The rain, which began in the top of the sixth inning, came down harder as the remaining fans watching from the concourse saw Boston score five runs in the eighth before the tarp came out. The game was called 55 minutes later.
"It's just one of those games you want to put behind you as fast as possible and try to get to the next day," Jackson said.
Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.