Detroit Tigers right-hamder Max Scherzer pitched his way to his 13th victory of the season, improving his record to 13-0 and becoming the first pitcher in 27 years to start the season by winning 13 straight decisions. The last pitcher to do so was Roger Clemens in 1986 when the Boston starter went 14-0 to start the season.
Scherzer was strong in his 17th outing of the season, working 6 1/3 innings and surrendering two runs on seven hits while striking out eight and walking two.
With his eight punch-outs, Scherzer has not struck out at least six batters in each of his starts this season, bringing his season total to 139, which currently stands as second most in the American League.
The Tigers struck first, scoring four runs in the second off of Toronto starter Josh Johnson, which was highlighted by a three-run home run by Alex Avila to left center, giving the Tigers an early 4-0 lead.
Detroit would add another run in the third on a Victor Martinez RBI single and a sixth run in the fifth on a solo shot by Martinez to right.
The only offense that Toronto would be able to muster up would come in the sixth, as a pair of RBI singles by Colby Rasmus and Maicer Izturis would account for the two-run inning.
Despite the historic nature of the game, the outing would be accompanied by some heated emotions, stemming from a base-path run-in between Rasmus and Omar Infante in the fourth.
On a Rajai Davis grounder to shortstop, Rasmus slid hard into second to break up the double play, catching his right leg on Infante’s left shin, knocking him down and out of the game (he is currently listed as day-to-day and will scratched from the lineup for Thursday’s game).
Scherzer did not have a favorable reaction to Rasmus’ slide, asserting that he should be suspended for the play.
“We’re really mad about that slide,” Scherzer said. “That’s a very dirty play in my book. When you watch it on replay, his spikes are up, he’s sliding late.”
Prior to the slide, Rasmus had been plunked by Scherzer (presumably unintentionally) earlier in the game; however, Rasmus made it known that his slide was nothing intentional or intended to send a message.
“I go in hard every time,” Rasmus said. “My intention is never to hurt anybody or nothing like that. I was taught that early in this game and that’s how I play it. I didn’t mean for nothing bad to happen. But it’s no different than any time I ever come in.”
However, tensions would mount in the sixth when Toronto reliever Mike Redmond hit Torii Hunter on a high and inside pitch, causing the benches to clear. No punches were thrown and after deliberation, the umpiring crew issued warnings to both dugouts.
Aside from the mid-innings fireworks, the rest of the game would cruise along as Scherzer would coast to his 13th victory and the Tigers would garner their second straight win, improving to a 45-38 record on the season and holding onto a tie for the AL Central division lead with the Cleveland Indians.