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Thursday, August 8, 2013
Scherzer's fastball dominates Indians

By ESPN Stats & Information

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY SportsMax Scherzer is 17-1 this season and is undefeated on the road.
Max Scherzer has started the season on a pace that has only been matched four times in major league history.

Scherzer is the fifth player in MLB history to win at least 17 of his first 18 decisions of a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The last player to accomplish the feat was Roger Clemens in 2001, and the last player before that was Roy Face in 1959.

Scherzer already has a new career high for wins in a season and is off to the best start of any Tigers pitcher in franchise history. Compare to Justin Verlander's 2011 Cy Young season: in his first 23 starts, Verlander was 14-5 with a 2.34 ERA and 169 strikeouts. Scherzer is 17-1 with a 2.84 ERA and 175 K's.

He’s the first pitcher to win each of his first seven road decisions in a season since Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Lincecum in 2008.

How did Scherzer dominate the Indians?

• Entering Thursday, Scherzer ranked fifth in the majors with 78 strikeouts using his fastball. On Thursday, hitters were 1-for-14 against that pitch, but he didn't record a single strikeout with his fastball and his miss percentage of 3.7 was his lowest since May 16, 2011.

• So how did he have so much success with his go-to pitch? Scherzer used his defense. His in-play percentage of 51.9 was his highest since August 2, 2011. His defense responded by not making an error while he was on the mound. And the only hit he gave up via the fastball was a bases-empty, two-out single in the sixth inning to Jason Kipnis on a tough pitch down and away.

• Scherzer also had success using pitches in the lower half. His strike percentage of 74.2 was his fourth-highest since 2009. More importantly, hitters were just 2-for-17 and accounted for four of his five strikeouts. On the season, he has allowed a .195 batting average in that zone, ranking second in the AL behind Yu Darvish.

• Scherzer threw 21 first-pitch strikes on Thursday, tied for his most this season (done three other times). This season, he's gotten ahead of hitters more often; his average of first-pitch strikes per start is his highest over the last five seasons.

The Tigers swept a four-game series at Cleveland for the first time since 1988.

The Tigers are 9-1 in road games at Progressive Field this season, their most wins in Cleveland in a season since 1946.

For the first time since 1935, the Tigers have won 12 of 13 against the Indians.