Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit
By STEVE KORNACKI  |  Last updated 8/28/13
DETROIT The Detroit Tigers have a rotation with five pitchers registering double-digit wins before the endof August. And so they have a staff built to avoid long losing streaks. However, the Tigers got drilled, 14-4, on Wednesday night to lose their third straight game to the Oakland As. Detroit has not lost more than four in a row this season, and the main reason for that is Thursday afternoons pitcher. Max Scherzer is 8-0 this season following a Detroit loss, and he ended a four-game losing streak back in late April with a win over the Kansas City Royals. En route to going 19-1 something only two other pitchers have ever attained in 20 decisions Scherzer has first and foremost been the stopper. Detroit catcher Alex Avila said, Hes been the guy, that when we had a bad game, hes always given us a chance to win the next game. The Tigers had a pair of three-game losing streaks between June 25 and July 1. The lone victory in that rough, seven-game stretch was by Scherzer at Tampa Bay against the Rays. And that other four-game losing streak wouldve been stopped at three games had Jose Valverde not blown the save on May 31 at Baltimore. Scherzer left with a 5-3 lead, and Valverde gave up four runs in the ninth with a Chris Dickerson three-run homer endingit for the Orioles. Scherzer also had the lone win in the middle of a five-game stretch, getting Detroits only victory in a three-game series at Cleveland with the Indians in early May. I asked Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter about the significance of Scherzers stopper capabilities, and he noted that Anibal Sanchez (11-7), Justin Verlander (12-10) and Doug Fister (11-7) share that ability. Rick Porcello (10-7) isnt bad, either. Weve got Anibal, Verlander and Fister who can get it done, too, Hunter said. And Scherzer has done it all year long. Weve got show-stoppers who can stop a losing streak. Our rotation is something I took a long look at when I signed here as a free agent. I figured there was no way this team was going to lose too many games in a row. Tigers manager Jim Leyland added: We had one other stretch where we went through stale for one cycle (of the rotation). But thats been the only other real time. Detroit has given up 28 runs to Oakland in three consecutive losses. When calm has needed to be restored, Scherzer has delivered like nobody else in the majors this season. And hell be waiting on the mound Thursday for another chance to do just that. There has been discussion this week about which pitcher Leyland will start in the opening of a playoff series. This is assuming Detroit doesnt blow the 5.5-game lead it has on Cleveland. But who can seriously ask that question? Its Scherzer, for crying out loud. Leyland isnt answering that question for two good reasons. First, its counting your chickens before the eggs hatch. Second, its pointless because injuries happen and Detroit might end up needing Scherzer to win oneof those last games of the season in Miami just to make the playoffs. But rest assured that if Leyland can line up a playoff rotation, Scherzer will be at the front. Hes just about a lock to win the Cy Young Award. Scherzer (19-1, 2.73 ERA, 196 strikeouts) has been a victory machine.Only Hall of Famer Rube Marquard of the 1912 New York Giants and Roger Clemens of the 2001 New York Yankees have been 19-1 after 20 decisions. Marquard lost his first attempt at win No. 20 and ended up 26-11. Clemens made it to 20-1 on Sept. 19, but theninexplicably lost his final two decisions that season to the 100-loss Tampa Bay Devil Rays. So, if Scherzer beats Oakland Thursday, he will stand alone with Clemens. Call in sick and come out to Comerica Park or sneak a peek on your laptop or phone. History could be matched Thursday afternoon, when Scherzer looks to join Clemens and stop another losing streak. PUTKONEN FOR ALVAREZ: The Tigers sent left-handed pitcher Jose Alvarez to Triple-A Toledo after Wednesday night's game, and recalled right-handed reliever Luke Putkonen from the Mud Hens. Leyland said Alvarez, who gave up seven earned runs on nine hitsin 2 23 innings against Oakland in this series, will be back with the club when rosters expand Sunday.
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