By the time he gets to Citi Field for the All-Star game next Tuesday, Max Scherzer could own a share of the AL record for consecutive winning decisions to open a season.
The Detroit Tigers’ right-hander, though, has a couple of starts before then.
Scherzer will try to become the second pitcher to open 14-0 in the last 27 years Monday night when the AL Central-leading Tigers conclude their four-game series visiting the second-place Cleveland Indians.
There was no surprise Scherzer (13-0, 3.09 ERA) was one of six Tigers named to the All-Star team Saturday, as he’s off to a start manager Jim Leyland told the team’s official website is “hard to believe.” With a career-best sixth consecutive winning start on Wednesday – he allowed two runs in 6 1-3 innings in a 6-2 victory at Toronto – Scherzer became the first pitcher to begin 13-0 since Boston’s Roger Clemens opened 14-0 in 1986.
The AL record is 15-0, set by Cleveland’s Johnny Allen in 1937 and equaled by Baltimore’s Dave McNally in 1969.
“(My) record’s kind of overblown,” Scherzer told the Tigers’ official website. “I’m playing a part on a great team here. Every time I start, they’re always picking me up, they’re always making plays. That’s the reason why I’m 13-0.”
A major league-best 7.87 run-support average has surely helped Scherzer, who’s 5-0 with a 2.16 ERA in eight road starts. He improved to 2-0 against the Indians (46-42) this season by giving up one run in eight innings of a 5-1 victory at Cleveland on May 21.
Scherzer has won his last two starts at Cleveland after going 0-3 with a 7.48 ERA in his first four.
He’ll face an Indians team that snapped a four-game losing streak – and a seven-game skid in this series – with Sunday’s 9-6 victory. Michael Brantley went 3 for 4 with two homers, a double and a career-best five RBIs to help Cleveland climb within 2 1/2 games of the division lead.
“Michael Brantley looked like Barry Bonds,” Tigers All-Star right fielder Torii Hunter said after his team’s five-game win streak was snapped.
The Indians will go for the series split with Scott Kazmir (4-4, 4.86) getting his first look at the Tigers since 2010 while with the Los Angeles Angels. The veteran left-hander was 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA in his previous two starts before not earning a decision in a 6-5 loss to Kansas City on Wednesday when he surrendered three runs in five innings.
Kazmir has a 8.53 run-support average while going 4-0 with a 4.26 ERA in six outings at Progressive Field.
He could use all the support he can get the way All-Star third baseman Miguel Cabrera and Hunter have been hitting. Cabrera, the major league leader with a .368 batting average and 90 RBIs, belted his 28th homer Sunday among his four hits. That tied the reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner with Cecil Fielder for the most home runs by a Tiger before the All-Star break.
Hunter is 12 for 23 with two homers and 11 RBIs in the last five contests after hitting a game-tying three-run shot and finishing with a season-best four RBIs on Sunday.
Indians All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis, 2 for 11 with five strikeouts this series, is 1 for 7 with a double off Scherzer this season, but Nick Swisher is 3 for 3 with a triple and a double.
Only one other player – Houston’s Carlos Corporan (two homers) – has more than one extra-base hit against Scherzer in 2013.