Max Scherzer brought his record to a Major League Baseball-best 13-0 on Wednesday night, as the Detroit Tigers defeated the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-2, at Rogers Centre. Scherzer threw 6.1 innings for the win, spraying seven hits and two earned runs while striking out eight batters.
As Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch noted, Scherzer is the first pitcher to win his first 13 decisions since Roger Clemens did so for the Boston Red Sox in 1986:
Clemens' streak ultimately stretched 14 games, a great feat in his historic 1986 season. The flame-throwing right-hander went 24-4 with a 2.48 ERA and 238 strikeouts, winning his first of seven Cy Young Awards in that decorated campaign.
Clemens' 14-0 start is second on the all-time list behind Dave McNally of the Baltimore Orioles, who won 15 straight to open the 1969 season. Scherzer is currently tied with former New York Yankees pitcher Ron Guidry, whose 13 consecutive victories began his season in 1978.
If Scherzer's stuff on Wednesday night is any indication of what's to come, the 28-year-old righty might be joining Guidry and Clemens as pitchers who parlayed their excellent starts into Cy Young Awards.
Scherzer started the game off in fine form, striking out three of four batters to mow his way through the first inning. Though that rate would slow down, it was indicative of a night full of bewilderment for the Blue Jays' batting order.
And if it wasn't enough of an indicator that Toronto was going to have a difficult outing, Detroit's offense opened up a huge lead in the top of the second. After an infield single from Prince Fielder and an Emilio Bonifacio throwing error, Jhonny Peralta drove in Fielder on a single and Alex Avila cleared the bases with a three-run blast to put Detroit ahead, 4-0.
That would be more than enough insurance for Scherzer. Essentially allotting himself one mistake per inning, Scherzer went through the fifth inning scoreless as the Tigers extended their lead to 6-0. The Tigers chased Blue Jays starter Josh Johnson after five innings of six-run ball, though only one of those was earned.
Toronto finally broke through at the dish an inning later, besting Scherzer for four singles and driving home two runs before a Mark DeRosa flyout to right field ended the rally. Leyland sent Scherzer out for the seventh but relieved his gassed starter after a Bonifacio single with one out. He finished throwing 79 strikes in his 113-pitch outing.
Detroit's bullpen then closed the door without much resistance. Bruce Rondon secured the final two outs of the seventh, Drew Smyly took care of the eighth and Joaquin Benoit came in to finish the job in a non-save situation in the ninth.
The victory brings the Tigers into a first-place tie with the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. Nearly 29 percent of the team's 45 wins have come directly as a result of Scherzer decisions, another jarring statistic that proves just how vital he's been this season.
Max Scherzer will have at least one more start before the All-Star break, as he's scheduled to take the mound in Cleveland next Monday. Whether Scherzer will get that next start will depend on how Leyland chooses to deploy his rotation, but based on the way he's pitching now, it'd almost be impossible to pass him up.
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