Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer won his sixth straight start and improved to 13-0 on the season after allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays on Wednesday.
Scherzer is the first pitcher to start 13-0 since Roger Clemens opened up 14-0 for the Red Sox on his way to a Cy Young and MVP season in 1986.
The game included a benches-clearing incident after Torii Hunter took a Todd Redmond fastball off his shoulder in the sixth. The Tigers were already upset with the Blue Jays after Colby Rasmus knocked Omar Infante out of the game with an overly aggressive takeout slide in the fourth. No punches were thrown and no one was ejected.
Scherzer’s 13-0 start is tied for the fifth best since 1916. Rube Marquard’s 19-0 start in 1912 is believed to the best ever. Pirates reliever Roy Face started 17-0 before finishing 18-1 in 1950. For a starter, the best season-opening streak in the last 100 years is 15-0 by Johnny Allen in 1937 and Dave McNally in 1969.
Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.
Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.
Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.