"The record's kind of overblown," Scherzer insisted again after Wednesday's 6-2 Tigers win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. "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. I've gone out there and pitched well and always given our team a chance to win, but so have other guys."
Scherzer has spent his past couple of starts making a point about the role his teammates have played in his historic start, but his 13th win might have been the best example yet. While Austin Jackson made two highlight catches in center field early, a four-run second inning off Josh Johnson gave Scherzer an early cushion to protect on his way to 6 1/3 strong innings, eight strikeouts and another step deep into history.
Scherzer's sixth win in as many starts made him the first Major League starter with a 13-0 record since Roger Clemens in 1986. He'll have a chance to tie Clemens' 14-0 standard from that season Monday night in Cleveland. If Scherzer were to pull that off, he'd be one win away from tying the AL record, set by Johnny Allen for the Indians in 1937 and matched by Dave McNally for the Orioles in 1969. Rube Marquard holds the Major League record with a 19-0 start for the Giants in 1912. Marquard finished the season with a 26-11 mark.
Whether or not it's flukey, as Scherzer keeps calling it, it's historic. Even his manager, while saying he didn't want to make a big deal about it, couldn't help but marvel at it.
"It's hard to believe, to be honest with you, that somebody is 13-0 in this day and age," Jim Leyland said, "but he is, and we'll take it. We'll accept it and be happy for him, and hopefully he goes 14-0."
Whether Scherzer will have Omar Infante behind him when he goes for 14 remains to be seen. Detroit's second baseman and recent spark plug left the game with a left shin contusion after Colby Rasmus slid into him trying to break up a double play in the fourth inning. What was initially feared to be far worse turned out to bring a sigh of relief when X-rays on Infante's leg came back negative.
"We're really mad about that slide," Scherzer said.
The injury added tension to a game that was trending strongly in Detroit's favor. A Todd Redmond pitch that hit Torii Hunter just below the head in the sixth inning sent the game simmering as both benches cleared and Hunter walked up the first-base line shouting at Redmond.
"To come in like that, that's fine. It's no big deal. I was just mad," Hunter said. "It hurt, first of all, he came up and in, and [Rasmus] took out my second baseman. So I kind of vented."
Scherzer pitched through it, shutting down the Jays' offense until four ground-ball singles led to a two-run sixth inning.
Scherzer said his pure pitching numbers are a better indication of how he fares from start to start. Wednesday brought some of the best pitching he has had in a while.
"I don't judge my season based on 13-0," Scherzer said. "I judge my season based on how I pitch. I thought I've pitched this season very well. I'm doing a lot of things right, generating swings and misses, minimizing walks, pitching with four pitches. And when I do that, I'm going to be successful.
"Am I going to be 13-0 every time I do that? No, but at the same time, I've put my team in a chance to win, and they've gone out every time and won."
Scherzer faced a Jays order that was strengthened with Adam Lind's return, and struck out four of the first five batters he faced, the exception being a Jose Bautista double to deep left field. The next ball put in play was a Maicer Izturis drive to right-center that Jackson ran down in a flat-out sprint.
After Mark DeRosa followed with a two-out triple, Jackson topped his previous work with his best catch so far this year, running back on J.P. Arencibia's fly ball to deep left-center and making a leaping grab near the top of the fence.
The only reason Scherzer didn't know if Jackson would get to it was because he didn't know whether it would stay in the park.
"This is a small park, so I knew there was a chance it could go," Scherzer said, "but I also know Austin can run down anything. I've seen it many, many, many times. I knew the longer it hung up there, the better shot he had. For him to make a jumping, leaping catch the way he did, I was so happy for him and for the team to be able to stay out of a jam in that inning."
By then, the Tigers already had a 4-0 lead, all of the runs scoring in the top of the second. Three of them came home on Alex Avila's home run to left, his second hard hit to the opposite field in as many games since returning from the disabled list. Victor Martinez added an RBI single in the third inning and a solo homer leading off the fifth.
With that, Scherzer had at least six runs of support for the third consecutive start. He has had five runs behind him in five of his last six starts, all six of them wins. However, he also hasn't given up more than three runs in an outing since May 15 in Houston.
An Emilio Bonifacio single chased him with one out in the seventh, but rookie fireballer Bruce Rondon hit 102 mph on the MLB.com radar gun en route to retiring Jose Reyes and Bautista.