Miguel Cabrera figured he’d try to play after missing four games because of a hip problem.
In his first plate appearance back, he homered — a feat so impressive teammate Max Scherzer found it downright amusing.
"I laugh every day," Scherzer said. "It can be a pitcher throwing his `out’ pitch in the right location, and he’ll hit it for a home run. It just doesn’t surprise you, anything he does. He’s obviously the best."
Cabrera’s first-inning homer was the start of an early offensive outburst, and the Detroit Tigers went on to a 10-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night. Scherzer allowed only one hit in six innings to become baseball’s first 15-game winner.
The Phillies lost their seventh in a row.
"That wasn’t much fun," Philadelphia’s Chase Utley said. "They came out with hot bats and we came out facing one of the best pitchers in baseball."
Scherzer (15-1) threw only 75 pitches — he was one of several stars pulled early after the game got out of hand. Detroit scored five runs in the first and three in the second off Raul Valdes (1-1), who started because Cliff Lee was out with a stiff neck.
Cabrera’s solo homer in the first was his 32nd of the year, and he later added two more RBIs to increase his season total to 99. Matt Tuiasosopo hit a three-run homer in the first.
The Tigers remain three games ahead of second-place Cleveland in the AL Central. The Phillies, meanwhile, are now 10 back of NL East-leading Atlanta.
Detroit outhit Philadelphia 15-2.
Valdes had been used exclusively as a reliever this year, and his first start since June 27, 2012, did not go well. He actually retired his first two batters before Cabrera — back after missing some time while his left hip recovered — went deep to put Detroit ahead 1-0.
"I’m feeling OK, so I was thinking, try to go out there and try to go and play," Cabrera said. "I don’t want to do too much today — wanted to make something happen. I tried to make sure I made contact with the ball."
Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta followed with consecutive singles — Peralta’s hit brought home another run — and Tuiasosopo hit his seventh homer of the year, to the bushes beyond the wall in center field.
Cabrera added an RBI single in the second, and Martinez’s two-run single made it 8-0.
Cabrera came out of the game in the fifth, and he wasn’t the only one who didn’t stick around for the full nine innings. Fielder, Utley and Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins were among the players pulled early.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he took Cabrera out as a precaution as the slugger works his way back from his injury. Scherzer was also allowed a bit of extra rest because of the big lead.
"It gives me a chance to regroup," said Scherzer, who celebrated his 29th birthday Saturday. "It was a 10-0 game, and there really wasn’t much more to accomplish in the game tonight."
The only baserunner Scherzer allowed was Darin Ruf, whose second-inning double was nearly caught by Austin Jackson in center. Scherzer struck out seven, and the Detroit All-Star again got plenty of run support. Detroit has backed Scherzer with an MLB-best average of 7.64 runs.
"That’s why I love being in Detroit," Scherzer said. "If you go out and pitch well, you have a good chance to win the ballgame. Obviously, I was able to pitch effectively tonight, and obviously, these guys came out chomping at the bit."
Cabrera hit an RBI groundout in the fourth. Valdes was finally pulled after allowing nine runs and 12 hits in 3 2-3 innings. He struck out three.
NOTES: The game started after a 47-minute rain delay. The game itself took only 2:25. … Tuiasosopo snapped an 0-for-10 skid with his homer. … The Tigers go for a three-game sweep Sunday when RHP Rick Porcello (7-6) takes on Philadelphia RHP Jonathan Pettibone (5-4).