Max Scherzer is trying to become the first pitcher in the majors with 14 wins, and he’s getting plenty of help along the way.
Scherzer goes for a sixth straight winning decision Monday night as the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers open a four-game road set with the New York Yankees.
Scherzer (13-3, 3.27 ERA) is the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, and though his numbers don’t quite measure up to his totals from 2013, he’s tied with five others for the most wins in baseball and is sixth in strikeouts (167).
The right-hander has been superb of late, going 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 47 2-3 innings over his last seven starts while getting an average of 6.8 runs of support.
Scherzer got all the help he needed early Wednesday. Detroit scored six first-inning runs, and Scherzer held the White Sox to one and five hits in seven innings of a 7-2 victory.
"You have to ignore the scoreboard sometimes, and go out there and just pitch," Scherzer said. "Fortunately, I’ve had the luxury of pitching in these situations because of this offense that we have. I’ve found that you need to throw your offspeed almost a little bit more, because their hitters are going up there gearing up for the fastball."
Scherzer is 6-1 with a 3.12 ERA in seven starts against New York including the postseason, receiving an average of 6.92 runs.
The Tigers (61-47) hit .323 while scoring 19 runs in a weekend sweep of Colorado, but they needed just eight hits to back Anibal Sanchez’s gem in Sunday’s 4-0 win.
Victor Martinez collected four hits in that series, homering in consecutive days to end a 16-game drought. He has a team-high 23 homers, two shy of his career high set in 2007 with Cleveland.
"This game is tough, and all you do is go up there and try to have a good at-bat every time up," Martinez said.
He has hit seven homers while totaling 21 hits with a .296 average in his past 18 regular-season games at Yankee Stadium.
Miguel Cabrera is hitting .424 with 10 homers and 23 RBIs in his last 16 games in the Bronx, including the playoffs. He homered in all three road games against the Yankees (57-53) last season.
While power from Cabrera is no surprise, the recent slugging surge of New York’s Brett Gardner is a bit more unusual. Gardner is 11 for 23 with three doubles, five homers and seven RBIs in his last six games.
Only Houston’s Chris Carter has more homers than Gardner’s eight since July 1.
"That’s not my game," Gardner said. "It’s nice not having to run, beat out an infield hit or a hustle double or triple for a change."
The left fielder hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 8-7 win at Boston, coming a triple shy of the cycle while totaling three RBIs.
Gardner is 0 for 14 with strikeouts lifetime against Scherzer.
New York has won all four games with Brandon McCarthy (3-0, 2.55) on the mound, but he needed help in Tuesday’s 12-11 win at Texas. The right-hander allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings while being backed by 10 runs, including a leadoff homer from Gardner.
McCarthy has won his last two starts against Detroit, allowing one run with 18 strikeouts in 14 innings with Oakland with the latest coming May 12, 2012.
Martinez is 7 for 21 with four doubles and a homer off him while Torii Hunter is 8 for 16 with three doubles and a home run.