Last Monday, Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1. The victory gave Scherzer his 10th straight win without a loss to start the season, tying a franchise record set by George Mullin back in 1909.
On Saturday, Scherzer put his winning streak on the line against the Boston Red Sox. No team in the American League has scored more runs than the Red Sox in 2013, so it was certainly not a given that Scherzer could extend his streak.
It didn't look good early, as Scherzer gave up two runs in the top of the first. But the Tigers offense answered back in resounding fashion in the bottom half of the inning, with designated hitter Victor Martinez clubbing a grand-slam home run to give Scherzer a two-run cushion.
That would prove to be all the support he would need, as he settled down and shut the vaunted Red Sox offense down for the next six innings to pick up his 11th straight victory.
Scherzer is now in fairly exclusive company. While six other pitchers have started the season 11-0 since 1916, only nine have longer streaks.
Scherzer deflected the personal significance of his achievement, telling Jason Beck of MLB.com that his teammates should share in the accomplishment.
"I realize it takes so many other teammates to put me in that position," Scherzer said. "This is a credit to the Detroit Tigers for being in this position. I know I pitched well, and I know I gave my team a chance to win, but it doesn't always go that way. To be 11-0, it means that everyone else around me has done their job, and I couldn't be happier for everybody else."
The numbers certainly back up Scherzer's statement—no pitcher in the American League has received better run support per start (6.33). But he's had a lot to do with his winning ways as well, ranking third in the league with a 10.6 K/9 rate and second with a .192 BAA.
Streaks in baseball oftentimes are aided by a bit of luck. In Scherzer's case, the run support supplied by his offense and his ability to pound the strike zone and limit baserunners have been the keys to his success during his undefeated run.
But can he continue his winning ways and put his name among the very elite? Here are nine pitchers who have longer winning streaks to start a season, along with odds that Scherzer can match their personal bests.
Note: All player statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com. For the purposes of clarification, only winning steaks achieved since 1912 are included.