Scherzer gets win 16
DETROIT -- During the last few seasons, there have been two Tigers who routinely brought helpless shrugs and awestruck comments from defeated managers and players -- Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander.
Now there is a third.
After shutting out the White Sox for 7 2/3 innings Saturday, improving his hard-to-believe record to 16-1, Max Scherzer got the kind of respect reserved for the best in the game.
"You can't win a game if no one touches home plate, and it is pretty tough to do that against Scherzer right now," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He's just got too much stuff. He can throw all of his off-speed pitches exactly where he wants them, and you can't tell them apart from his fastball. So you are watching for the break, and you don't have a chance to catch up to his velocity."
Chicago starter John Danks had a pretty good night, allowing three runs in seven innings, but he knew that wasn't going to be good enough against the hottest pitcher in baseball.
"Once they got us in a 3-0 hole after four innings, I just started trying to get us deep enough into the game to avoid burning out our bullpen," he said. "You're not going to beat Max if you spot him three runs. He's just too good. He started the All-Star Game for the American League, and he's still getting better."
Danks wasn't kidding. Scherzer lost his last game before the break -- the only blemish on his season -- but he's 3-0 with a 0.83 ERA since his appearance at Citi Field.
Earlier in the season, Scherzer's record was rightly questioned -- after eight starts, he was 5-0 despite an unspectacular 3.98 ERA. Since then, he's pitched as well as you would expect from the first pitcher to start 16-1 in 12 years. In his last 14 outings, he's 11-1 with a 2.23 ERA with a 102-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Scherzer has never spent any time bragging about his record -- when asked, he will always credit Detroit's offense for his league-leading run support -- but he was a little disappointed to learn that he had just missed a different milestone. Scherzer struck out six batters, giving him 999 for his career.
"I didn't know that, but now I'm going to be thinking about it," he said. "Wins are important for the team, and I'm all about that. But when you reach your own career milestones, sometimes that's a better personal reflection of yourself. To get 1,000 career strikeouts is a huge feat. That means you are having success over a long period of time."
Detroit's offense came from three solo homers, the first coming from budding nudist Torii Hunter. After telling FOX Sports Detroit's Shannon Hogan and a sold-out crowd that he planned to spend Thursday's off-day "naked by the pool," Hunter had further updates on his undressed style after Saturday's win.
"I don't want to be superstitious," Hunter said after Detroit's seventh straight win. "I've got to break things up and sleep naked tonight. I usually sleep with shorts on, so we'll see how that turns out."
Jhonny Peralta hit Detroit's second homer, a career-long 444-foot shot into the centerfield shrubbery, less than 48 hours than the anticipated announcement of the Biogenesis suspensions. If Peralta is suspended, his replacement will be Jose Iglesias, but the newest Tiger has been busy playing third base while Miguel Cabrera continues to battle a cascade of muscle problems stemming from his sore back.
Iglesias did the job Saturday, blasting a 411-foot shot into the left-field stands to help Detroit keep winning despite Cabrera's injury struggles.
"We just have so much talent in this clubhouse," Scherzer said. "Miggy's a big part of that, but even without him, there are plenty of guys in this room who can dominate in the major leagues."
Right now, no one is dominating more than Scherzer himself.