DETROIT (AP) — Max Scherzer has shrugged off the significance of his undefeated start, saying records are fluky statistics for pitchers and that he's simply playing for a good team.
When the Detroit Tigers right-hander found out he is the first to accomplish a couple feats since Rogers Clemens and Pedro Martinez, though, it knocked Scherzer off his humble script.
"That tickles me when you say those type of names," he said.
Scherzer improved to 10-0 and struck out 10, Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer and Detroit beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 on Monday night.
He became the first pitcher to begin a season 10-0 — with all decisions coming in starts — since Clemens went 11-0 for Toronto in 1997, according to STATS. And Scherzer is the first to have at least six strikeouts in his first 14 starts in a season since Martinez did it in 2001 with Boston, STATS said.
"He's at the top of his game pretty much," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Scherzer allowed one run and seven hits in six innings. Chris Davis hit his major league-leading 24th homer in the second, but struck out with the bases loaded in the fifth and the Orioles down by two runs.
"He was just coming after me," Davis said. "Of course, when you're throwing 96, 97, 98, that helps."
Jake Arrieta (1-2) allowed five hits on 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings, and was sent to Triple-A Norfolk after the game with a 7.23 ERA.
"Stuff has never been an issue with Jake, it's just command," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
With two on and none out in the fifth, Arrieta struck out Cabrera on a wild pitch that allowed two runners to get into scoring position. Victor Martinez hit a sacrifice fly and Jhonny Peralta's RBI single to give Detroit a four-run cushion in the fifth, chasing Arrieta.
Scherzer's start ended after finishing off the sixth inning with two strikeouts, giving him at least 10 in a game for the fifth time this year.
Scherzer lowered his ERA to 3.08 this season for the AL Central leaders. He is the second pitcher in Detroit history to start this strong since 1909, when George Mullin was 11-0 with one victory as a reliever, the Elias Sports Bureau said in information provided by the Tigers.
Drew Smyly followed with three hitless innings for his second save.
"We got (Scherzer's) pitch count up and got him out of there," Showalter said. "But Smyly is a good one, you can see why they're so high on him."
Detroit began the game leading baseball with an average of 5.72 runs per game at home and almost scored that much through five innings.
Austin Jackson led off with a single and scored on Cabrera's seemingly effortless swing, an opposite-field drive that cleared a high wall in right-center for his 19th homer to make it 2-0.
"I watched the replay on video a couple times and by his swing, you think it might be a fly ball to right field," Arrieta said. "But with the strength he has in his swing, a swing like that on that ball ends up in the seats."
NOTES: Detroit put RHP Anibal Sanchez (shoulder) and C Alex Avila (left forearm) on the 15-day DL and recalled OF Avisail Garcia and C Bryan Holaday from Triple-A Toledo to take their roster spots. The Tigers plan to call up LHP Jose Alvarez to start in place of Sanchez on Thursday at home against the Boston Red Sox. ... The Orioles are planning to start LHP Zach Britton in place of ailing RHP Jason Hammel on Tuesday night against Detroit and RHP Justin Verlander. ... Orioles Miguel Gonzalez left the team Monday to be with his wife, who is expecting their first child, but Showalter said the team might not put him on paternity leave.