DETROIT (AP)—Max Scherzer has a lot to be happy about so far this season— beyond his snazzy 7-0 record.
“If I was 0-7 but pitching well and giving the team a chance to win, I’d still be as proud of that,” Scherzer said. “For me, it’s all about going out there and making sure that I’m pitching deep into games and keeping their offense down, and I’ve been doing that for the most part.”
Scherzer pitched six solid innings to remain undefeated this year, and Avisail Garcia broke the game open with a bases-loaded triple, leading the Detroit Tigers over the Minnesota Twins 6-1 on Sunday. Scherzer, who retired his last 22 batters in a win at Cleveland on Tuesday, allowed a run and three hits Sunday.
“He’s added a curveball a little bit more, just another weapon, just kind of a `show-me’ pitch,” manager Jim Leyland said. “When he gets in that arm slot and can be repetitive with it, he’s pretty nasty.”
Scherzer struck out six and walked three. Torii Hunter homered for the Tigers, and Prince Fielder drove in a run with a fourth-inning double. Garcia, pinch-hitting in the sixth, cleared the bases to make it 6-1.
Mike Pelfrey (3-5) allowed five runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings. He walked three and struck out five.
Minnesota has lost 11 of 12.
Scherzer set down the Twins in order in the first, extending his streak of batters retired to 25 before Minnesota drew back-to-back walks to start the second. He is the first Detroit pitcher to start the year 7-0 since Jeremy Bonderman was 8-0 in 2007.
“Obviously, it’s pitching with fastball location, I thought my changeup was good,” Scherzer said. “But it’s keeping them off balance with that curveball that really allows me to have success.”
Scherzer lowered his ERA to 3.42.
“Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he’s really good,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He almost never elevates the ball and his stuff is moving all over the place. With the guys over there, if you don’t get them early, you probably aren’t going to get them at all.”
Hunter opened the scoring in the first with an opposite-field solo homer, and in the fourth, Miguel Cabrera walked and scored on Fielder’s double. Each of the last six times Cabrera has walked, Fielder has followed with a hit.
Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a one-out single in the sixth, and Avila later drove him home with a bloop single that fell between three fielders in short left-center.
That hit chased Pelfrey, and after Casey Fien walked Omar Infante to load the bases, the Twins brought in left-hander Caleb Thielbar Detroit countered with Garcia, who hits right-handed, and he sent a drive to left-center to bring home three more runs.
Garcia is in the majors because of an injury to center fielder Austin Jackson and he’s done fine in a part-time role.
“We would prefer to have him down (in the minors) getting 500 at-bats, because he’s such a great prospect,” Leyland said. “He’s got a lot of talent, but he needs to play.”
Drew Smyly pitched 2 1-3 hitless innings of relief for the Tigers to finish the game.
Minnesota’s only run came in the fifth on an RBI single by Jamey Carroll
NOTES: The longest streak of batters retired by a pitcher this year is 29 by Shelby Miller of St. Louis, according to STATS. On May 10, against Colorado, Miller allowed a leadoff single in the first before retiring the final 27 batters to end the game. Then on May 15, Miller retired the first two New York Mets he faced. … Hunter needs one more homer to reach 300. … Leyland said there’s no timetable for the return of Jackson, who has been on the DL since May 12 with a pulled left hamstring. RHP Octavio Dotel (right elbow) isn’t expected back for a while. … Minnesota OF Wilkin Ramirez went on the 7-day concussion DL. He left Saturday’s game when he was shaken up in an outfield collision. … Detroit begins a two-game home series with Pittsburgh on Monday. Justin Verlander (5-4) takes the mound for the Tigers against Francisco Liriano (3-0). The Twins play at Milwaukee. Kevin Correia (4-4) is set to start for Minnesota against Wily Peralta (3-5).