Max Scherzer fans MLB-season high 15 in victory

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It wasn’t quite a near no-hitter, but Max Scherzer became the first pitcher this season to strike out 15 batters Sunday in a victory over the Pirates.

Scherzer allowed two runs in seven innings in the game. Tigers pitchers struck out 17 in all.

This year’s previous high strikeout game belonged to Anibal Sanchez, who fanned 14 Diamondbacks on April 28.

It was the high game for a Tigers pitcher since Mickey Lolich struck out 15 Red Sox on Oct. 2, 1972.

Scherzer joined Justin Verlander and Stephen Strasburg in striking out a dozen Pirates. Three of this season’s nine 12-strikeout games have come against Pittsburgh.

Scherzer improved to 3-3 with the victory and lowered his ERA to 5.73. He has four games of nine or more strikeouts this year, but he’s also given up at least five runs on three occasions.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.