Max Scherzer Looks to Improve to 10-0
With an exceptional pitching rotation led by 2011 Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, the Detroit Tigers were the preseason favorites to repeat as AL Central champions. The Tigers certainly haven’t disappointed and neither has Verlander, but this season it’s been Max Scherzer leading the charge from the hill, as he aims to become the AL’s first 10-game winner this season today against the Baltimore Orioles.
“Don’t get me wrong — I love being 9-0, but it’s more important that we (win),” Scherzer said, according to ESPN.com. “For me, it’s all about going out there and pitching deep into the game and (being) effective. The way I look at success is how well I pitch (and not the amount of personal victories).”
Scherzer (9-0, 3.19 ERA) has been near flawless so far this year – especially recently, as he’s won four of his last five starts with a 2.00 ERA and 38 strikeouts – but he will be tested today as he squares off against one of the best offenses in the AL and a formidable hurler in Jason Hammel, who is 7-4 this season.
The Orioles have enjoyed plenty of success with Hammel on the mound this year, but Hammel’s teammates have given him ample support during his recent outings. They’ve also continued to swing the bats well during their last eight games, a stretch in which they’ve gone 6-2.
More importantly, the Orioles have hit Scherzer well in the past. In his last four starts against Baltimore, Scherzer is just 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA and has allowed Adam Jones eight hits, including a homerun, in 15 career at-bats against him.
Scherzer’s performance should be boosted by the friendly confines of Comerica Park today, but he hopes to get a boost from his lineup – some of which has struggled at the dish lately. Reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown slugger Miguel Cabrera is hitting just .179 in his last nine games, but has hit .500 with eight bombs in his last 12 meetings with the Orioles.
With a four-and-a-half game lead in the AL Central, the Tigers seem to be in control of their playoff destiny at the moment, but a win for Detroit and for Scherzer against another one of the league’s best teams would be a big statement heading toward the All-Star break. Scherzer says he isn’t concerned with personal achievements, but after seeing his teammate win the Cy Young, he would undoubtedly love to win one of his own.
Although Scherzer has stuggled against the O’s in the past, it’s hard to go against a guy with a 9-0 mark. Look for the Tigers to cover -1.5 runs in the win today against Baltimore.