Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer outduels Matt Harvey in 3-0 game

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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.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.

Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.

Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.

EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.