Max Scherzer just did something he never did in winning the Cy Young award

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Max Scherzer got off to a shaky start this afternoon, walking the first batter he faced and giving up a single to the second hitter, but then he escaped the first inning without any damage and went on to shut out the Royals for eight innings.

His final line: 8.0 innings, 0 runs, 4 hits, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts, 110 pitches.

That may not seem like a big deal for the reigning Cy Young winner, but actually in going 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA last season Scherzer never completed eight scoreless innings in a start.

He allowed zero runs in four of his 32 outings last year, but they were 6.0, 6.0, 7.0, and 7.2 innings each. He did throw eight innings seven times, going 5-0 in those starts, but allowed 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, and 4 runs.

Or, put another way: Max Scherzer’s first start of 2014 was better* than any of his 32 starts in 2013, and he was the best pitcher in the American League in 2013.

(*Arguably, I guess, but you get the idea.)

UPDATE: And here’s another thing that didn’t happen to Scherzer much last season: Detroit’s offense provided him with only one run of support and the bullpen blew a 1-0 lead, costing him a “win.”

Giants activate Hunter Strickland

Hunter Strickland
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Giants reliever Hunter Strickland has been activated from the 60-day disabled list, the club announced Saturday. In a corresponding move, third baseman Pablo Sandoval was shifted to the 60-day disabled list, where he’ll remain for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his right hamstring. Right-handed reliever Dereck Rodriguez has also been placed on the 10-day disabled list after suffering a hamstring strain during Tuesday’s brawl against the Dodgers.

Strickland, 29, had been shelved with a fractured right hand since mid-June. The right-hander sustained the injury after punching a door and underwent surgery to repair the fifth metacarpal in his pitching hand. He only missed the minimum after making a speedy recovery, however, and finished his recent rehab stint with 5 2/3 innings of two-run, 10-strikeout ball for the Giants’ rookie, High-A and Triple-A affiliates.

Prior to the incident, Strickland logged 13 saves in 28 opportunities with a 2.84 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 in 34 appearances. According to comments from club skipper Bruce Bochy, the Giants don’t plan on wasting any time before deploying their former closer, but will make him available in high-leverage situations as soon as possible. It’s worth noting, too, that the team still has a viable closer in lefty reliever Will Smith, who picked up 10 saves and engineered a 3.10 ERA, 1.8 BB/9 and 12.8 SO/9 in 20 1/3 innings since Strickland landed on the DL this summer.