Max Scherzer couldn’t have picked a better time to finish off his pitching resume.
Scherzer has a Cy Young award on his shelf, but until Thursday night’s three-hitter, he had never pitched a complete game, much less a shutout. He ended the 4-0 victory in style, freezing Dayan Viciedo with a 96-mph fastball for his eighth strikeout.
"Now you guys can all shut up," Scherzer jokingly told FOX Sports Detroit’s Mickey York, referring to the questions he has gotten throughout his Tigers career about getting that first complete game.
Scherzer had to be an ace on Thursday, because Chris Sale was dominating yet again for Chicago. Sale pitched seven innings, striking out 10, but made the one mistake that Scherzer didn’t. In the fifth, Victor Martinez ripped a hanging slider into the leftfield bullpen.
"He’s a great pitcher, and when you go against him, you know you have to bring your A-game," Scherzer said. "Luckily, I got rolling and Victor hit a bomb, because that guy is the best. He’s a legitimate number-one starter."
More importantly for the Tigers, Scherzer and Martinez did enough to give them their first win of June over anyone other than Boston.
"That was a big pick up," Brad Ausmus said after the game. "Max did exactly what we needed — he went against one of the best pitchers in the game, and he held on for nine innings. You can’t ask for anything more than that."
Scherzer only needed six pitches to get through the first inning, and the White Sox never got anything going against him.
"When he got through the first inning that quickly, I thought that he might have a chance at it," Ausmus said. "You never know what is going to happen, but he was just outstanding tonight."
Detroit added late insurance runs, including one of the only two-RBI infield singles of Miguel Cabrera’s Hall of Fame career, giving Scherzer a cushion going into the ninth. He didn’t need much, as the only baserunner came when a replay review overturned Rajai Davis’ sliding catch of an Adam Dunn line drive.
Scherzer looked frustrated by the length of the replay delay, but he quickly retired Alexei Ramirez before the final strikeout. He stayed calm when home-plate umpire Mark Carlson rung Viciedo up, but broke into a wide grin as he high-fived Bryan Holaday and accepted the congratulations of his teammates.
"I finished this game strong," said Scherzer, who only allowed two hits in the final five innings. "Early in the game, they were hitting the ball right at guys, but then I got rolling. I was able to attack guys, which kept my pitch count down."
Now you guys can all shut up.
He was only at 99 pitches through eight innings, and Ausmus didn’t even bother warming anyone up at the start of the ninth.
"I was surprised that he didn’t have any complete games, but there was no question about him getting this one tonight," Ausmus said. "The way he came off the mound at the end of the eighth, I didn’t even have to ask him how he felt. He was going right back out there."
Fourteen pitches later, Scherzer finally could put a "1" in the complete game and shutout columns.
"Max was just unbelievable," Martinez said. "We got him one run, and he took over from there. I’m just glad he was on our side tonight."