It was the best pitching matchup of the season that a big chunk of the U.S. was unable to watch.
Max Scherzer struck out 11 over six innings and combined with three relievers on a shutout as the Tigers beat the Mets 3-0 on Saturday.
Matt Harvey took the loss after giving up two runs in 6 2/3 innings. Oddly enough, he surrendered 13 hits. That’s three more than he had ever allowed previously. He entered the day with a .199 batting average-against this season. The Tigers, though, hit .406 against him.
Perhaps most interesting, Harvey allowed hits to the last four hitters he faced, without ever giving up a run. All four hits were singles, and Omar Infante was thrown out at home on the third of them. After the fourth, Scott Rice replaced him and got Torii Hunter to hit into an inning-ending groundout.
Scherzer’s win moved him to 19-1 on the season. He has a realistic chance of finishing with the best winning percentage ever, minimum 20 decisions:
.950 – Max Scherzer – 2013 Tigers (19-1)
.905 – Greg Maddux – 1995 Braves (19-2)
.900 – Randy Johnson – 1995 Mariners (18-2)
.893 – Ron Guidry – 1978 Yankees (25-3)
.886 – Lefty Grove – 1931 Athletics (31-4)
.880 – Cliff Lee – 2008 Indians (22-3)
.880 – Preacher Roe – 1951 Dodgers (22-3)
With 33 games left in the Tigers’ season, Scherzer probably has six starts remaining. If he can avoid losing more than one of them and he can win at least one more game, then he’ll top Maddux’s .905 winning percentage from 1995.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.