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Tigers' Scherzer contributes at plate in 19th win

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Max Scherzer now has as many hits this season as he does losses. And he's going to enjoy reminding his Detroit Tigers teammates of the hit in the days, weeks, months -- and maybe even years -- to come.

Scherzer's RBI double in the second inning -- in his first at-bat of the season -- provided the only offense that he and the Tigers would need in a 3-0 win over the New York Mets on Saturday in front of 35,636 at Citi Field.

Scherzer gave up four hits and three walks and struck out 11 batters in six scoreless innings as he improved to 19-1. But all he and the Tigers wanted to talk about was his hit off Mets ace - and fellow All-Star Game starter - Matt Harvey.

"That's Babe Ruth there, boys," Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter said as reporters gathered around Scherzer.

"Easy," Scherzer said -- and then promptly began reliving the moment.

Andy Dirks led off the second with a double and went to third on a single by Brayan Pena. After Ramon Santiago popped up, Scherzer stepped to the plate with the bunt sign on.

But after taking a called strike, he swung away on Harvey's next offering and laced a line drive just over the glove of Mets shortstop Omar Quintanilla.

The ball then split the left-center field gap as the Tigers' dugout erupted in laughter.

"We won't hear the end of it," Hunter said. "He's going to talk about that forever."

Scherzer said, "I got a replay of it and I'm sending a text to everybody now. It was definitely 96, down and away, and I laced it for a double."

Scherzer later showed teammates a video text message he received from injured teammate Octavio Dotel.

"What a professional hitter you are," Dotel said in the video.

Scherzer said, "I'm never gonna shut up. I'm just gonna keep talking trash the whole time."

As Scherzer discussed his hitting approach -- while the hit was his first since joining the Tigers in 2010, he had 12 hits in 53 at-bats for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009 -- Justin Verlander made his way to a neighboring locker and began making retching noises.

"See? He's so jealous," Scherzer said with a laugh. "So jealous. He can't take it."

While Scherzer will take all the credit for his hit, he said his 19-1 record is a team effort. Scherzer is just the third player in history -- after Rube Marquard in 1912 and Roger Clemens in 2001 -- to open with 19 wins in his first 20 decisions.

Clemens is the only pitcher to ever go 20-1. Scherzer will get his first chance at matching Clemens when he starts against Oakland on Thursday.

"Our defense makes plays behind us, we always seem to get the big hit, everybody through the lineup plays well every time I take the mound," Scherzer said. "And that's the reason why I'm 19-1."

Scherzer wasn't the only unexpected contributor at the plate. Five players had at least two hits for the Tigers, including Dirks, who started in place of Hunter and had three hits after entering the game with just two hits in his last 17 at-bats.

Don Kelly, who came in as a defensive replacement in the eighth, had a sacrifice fly in the ninth to score Austin Jackson, whose RBI single in the second provided the Tigers' second run.

"Everybody made contributions," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I thought that was huge. I thought Scherzer's hit really pumped guys up, got everybody pretty excited. And I thought at the end (that) Donny Kelly had a terrific at-bat off (Pedro) Feliciano to get that extra run."

Scherzer battled out of trouble in the fifth when he struck out Eric Young with two runners on and two outs and the sixth when the Mets loaded the bases with one out via two hits and a walk. Scherzer escaped that jam by striking out Juan Lagares and getting John Buck to pop out on the first pitch.

Three relievers retired the final nine Mets in order, with Joaquin Benoit getting the final three outs for his 17th save.

For the Mets, Harvey (9-5) allowed two runs and a career-high 13 hits while walking none and striking out four in 6 2/3 innings. He benefited from some questionable base running in the seventh by the Tigers, who collected four straight hits but didn't score a run.

Omar Infante was thrown out at home for the second out and Miguel Cabrera put on the brakes a third of the way down the line on Matt Tuiasosopo's hit while Prince Fielder, who was more than halfway to third, raced back to second.

"He kept us in the game and he battled like crazy," Mets manager Terry Collins said of Harvey. "And that's what you love about him."

Ike Davis had two hits and a walk in four plate appearances for the Mets.

NOTES: The Mets recalled 1B/OF Lucas Duda from Triple-A Las Vegas and optioned Mike Baxter to the same affiliate. Duda opened the season as the Mets' starting left fielder but lost his job to Young after suffering a left intercostal strain on June 22. Collins said Duda will be used mostly off the bench, but that he probably will be the designated hitter when the Mets visit Cleveland on Sept. 6-8. ... Mets 3B David Wright (right hamstring strain) took grounders for the second straight day and also threw across the diamond. ... Leyland said DH Victor Martinez probably would catch the series finale on Sunday. Martinez made his first start at catcher in more than two years on Friday night. ... Tigers SS Jose Iglesias was unavailable Saturday after being hit by a pitch on the left elbow in the ninth inning of Detroit's 6-1 win on Friday.
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