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MLB Notebook: Scherzer roars out of the gate

First Detroit pitcher to open with eight straight wins since Bonderman in '07

Max Scherzer isn't the biggest name in the Detroit rotation, but he's making a case as the staff's most dominant arm thus far this season.

Scherzer improved to 8-0 on Thursday after allowing one run and fanning nine in seven innings against the Rays. Over the course of Scherzer's first 12 starts this season, the Tigers right-hander has averaged just a stitch below seven innings per start. It is a mark that places him in the top six among qualifying American League pitchers.

Compared to what Tigers righty George Uhle was doing during an undefeated streak back in 1929, Scherzer's output might not seem like much. But then again, Uhle had an appearance during his stretch -- when he averaged more than 10 innings a start -- that might be described as Herculean.

Uhle's start to the season was fairly common, as he simply went the full nine in each of his first seven starts of the season. Start No. 8, however, required a more strenuous effort. On May 24, with his Tigers in Chicago to take on the White Sox, Uhle allowed five runs through the first nine innings. Fortunately for him and his winning streak, so did his mound counterpart that day, Ted Lyons.

Entering extra innings, the two hurlers got down to serious business, with each throwing shutout ball for the next 11 frames. After the Tigers scored a run in the top of the 21st, Uhle was relieved by Lil Stoner (full name: Ulysses Simpson Grant Stoner), and three outs later, Uhle had his eighth win of the season after a 20-inning effort that also happened to be his first non-complete game of the year.

Scherzer is the fourth Tigers starter since 1916 to open the year with wins in each of his first eight (or more) decisions.

Eight is great
Tigers pitchers since 1916 to open with at least eight straight winning decisions.
Pitcher Year Wins Games IP ERA K:BB
George Uhle 1929 9 9 92.0 1.86 30:15
Vern Kennedy 1938 9 10 85.0 3.39 21:44
Jeremy Bonderman 2007 8 13 83.0 4.01 73:16
Max Scherzer 2013 8 12 83.1 3.24 100:20

With nine strikeouts in seven innings Thursday, it marked the 28th since the start of the 2012 season in which Scherzer had gone at least five innings and finished with more strikeouts than innings pitched. Those 28 are the most in the Majors, with Yu Darvish ranking second with 26. Scherzer had 21 such lines last season -- the most for any Tigers pitcher in a season since 1916. With seven through the team's first 58 games this season, Scherzer is ahead of his pace from last year.

Anibal Sanchez, with nine such outings, leads the team in 2013. Scherzer is tied with Justin Verlander for the second most.

Scherzer, Sanchez and Verlander are all averaging more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings. No team in baseball history has had three of its pitchers qualify for the ERA title and finish the season averaging at least 10 K's per nine innings pitched.

With 100 K's, Scherzer is the fifth Tigers pitcher since 1916 to have at least 100 strikeouts through the team's first 58 games. Mickey Lolich had 108 in both '71 and '72, Hal Newhouser had 103 in '46, and Joe Coleman had 103 in '72.

Papi comes through in the clutch yet again
David Ortiz hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth to give the Red Sox a 6-3 win over the Rangers. The game-ending homer represented the 19th walk-off hit of Ortiz's career, with 11 of those 19 being home runs.

The 11 game-ending homers tie Ortiz with Tony Perez for the seventh most in history. Jim Thome is the all-time leader, with 13, and is ahead of Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson -- all with 12. Thursday's game-ending home run was the first for Ortiz since Aug. 26, 2009.

Ortiz's 19 walk-off hits are the most for any active player, with Miguel Tejada and Albert Pujols tied for second with 15.

Puig powers Dodgers
Yasiel Puig hit a grand slam in a 2-for-4 game, and the Dodgers defeated the Braves, 5-0. In his first four Major League games, Puig has three homers, a double, three singles and nine RBIs. The Dodgers were 3-1 in those four games.

Puig, who drove in five runs in his second game, is the fourth player since 1916 to have a pair of four-RBI games through his first four contests. The Cardinals' Joe Cunningham had two in 1954 (in his first two games), the Giants' Dave Kingman had a pair in '71 (in games No. 2 and No. 4), and in 2012, Boston's Will Middlebrooks had two (in games No. 3 and No. 4).

Puig is the only Dodgers player since 1916 to have a grand slam so early in his career.

Cardinals spread the wealth
The Cardinals got multihit games from seven starters, had five players homer and set a season high for hits (17) in a 12-8 win over the D-backs.

The Cardinals most recently had five players go deep in a home game on April 9, 2000, when six Redbirds went yard. Other than that contest, there had been only three other times since 1916 in which five members of the club hit homers in a home game. It happened on May 7, 1940, against the Dodgers, again on April 14, 1955, against the Braves, and then again on Aug. 14, 1998, against the Pirates.

In contrast, since 1916, the club can claim nine road games in which it had at least five players homer. Also since '16, the Cardinals have had 103 games in which at least seven of their starters had multiple hits, with Thursday's occurrence the first since April 11, 2009.

O's extend extra-base streak
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy went 4-for-4 and collected one of the Orioles' two doubles in a 3-1 win over the Astros. Joining Hardy in the doubles category was Adam Jones, giving Baltimore at least two extra-base hits in 34 straight games.

The 2013 Orioles are the 10th team since 1916 to have a multiple extra-base-hit streak in a single season this long, and the first since the 2008 O's went 46 consecutive games with at least two extra-base hits. The 1937 Yankees set the record with 49 straight such contests.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions.
Read More: J.J. Hardy, Yasiel Puig, David Ortiz, Max Scherzer