Max Scherzer picked up his easiest W of the season as the Tigers rolled over the hapless Phillies 10-0 tonight at Comerica Park. With reliever Raul Valdes making a spot start in place of Cliff Lee, dealing with a stiff neck, the Tigers put up a five-spot in the first inning. Miguel Cabrera got the ball rolling with a solo home run, his 32nd of the season, and Matt Tuiasosopo added a gut punch with a three-run home run before Valdes could even break a sweat.
The Tigers added three more runs in the second on an RBI single by Cabrera and a two-run single by Victor Martinez. Extra runs were added in the fourth on a Cabrera ground out, and in the fifth on a Torii Hunter sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, Scherzer limited a decimated Phillies lineup to one hit over six innings. He issued no free passes while striking out seven, lowering his ERA to 3.01. Al Alburquerque tossed two scoreless frames in relief before giving way to Evan Reed in the ninth. Reed enjoyed a quick 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the 10-0 victory.
The loss is the Phillies’ seventh in a row. They fall to 49-55, a full ten games behind the first place Braves in the NL East. They are temporarily ten games behind the Reds for the second Wild Card as well, but it will go up or down by a half-game depending on the result of tonight’s Reds-Dodgers game. The Tigers maintain a three-game lead over the Indians in the AL Central.
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.
Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.
In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”
Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.
Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.