Stats & Info: Max Scherzer

Scherzer leads Cy Young trio into Bronx

August, 4, 2014
Aug 4
4:01
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The Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees open a four-game series in the Bronx Monday night (7 ET, ESPN), as both teams jockey with the Kansas City Royals for playoff position.

Detroit holds a seemingly safe five-game lead over second-place Kansas City in the AL Central. But that lead was 7.5 games on July 12, and the Tigers have gone 8-10 since.

The Yankees have lost five of their last eight games, and they're tied with Kansas City, 1.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the second wild-card berth.

Scherzer leads Cy Young trio
Beginning Monday night, New York will face three straight Cy Young winners in Max Scherzer, David Price and Justin Verlander. That feat isn't as rare as you'd think: The Cardinals did the same thing from June 28 to July 1, against Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum.

What is rare is a single team having each of the three previous Cy Young winners entering that season. With Scherzer (who won in 2013), Price (2012) and Verlander (2011), the Tigers join the 1997 Braves -- which featured John Smoltz (1996), Greg Maddux (1992-95) and Tom Glavine (1991) -- as the only teams to do that.

Scherzer has followed up his Cy Young season with another very good year, ranking in the AL top 20 in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts.

Max Scherzer
Scherzer
Scherzer's pitch selection has been a big factor in his improvement the past two years, as he's added a curveball that has made his slider even more effective.

Batters have missed 45 percent of his sliders the past two seasons, compared to 38 percent from 2009 to 2012. And opponents are hitting only .172 against his slider since 2013, down from .221 the previous four seasons.

In a small sample size, Jacoby Ellsbury has had the most success of any Yankee against Scherzer, hitting .462 (6-for-13), while Mark Teixeira (3-for-19) and Brett Gardner (0-for-14) have struggled mightily.

Gardner, McCarthy lead Yankees
Gardner has been hot lately, though, hitting eight home runs since July 1. The only player with more homers in that span is Houston's Chris Carter (nine).

This season, Gardner is hitting the ball farther and harder than he ever has before. His 2014 average home run distance of 389 feet and hard-hit average of .176 are both career bests for a single season.

Brandon McCarthy
McCarthy
Tonight is Brandon McCarthy's fifth start with the Yankees since being acquired from the Diamondbacks on July 6. New York has won all four of his starts, matching the number of his games that Arizona won in his 18 starts before the trade.

McCarthy is 3-0 with a 2.55 ERA for New York, after going 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA for the Diamondbacks. He's gone at least six innings in all four starts with New York, and he's allowed more than one earned run only once.

Trout, Jeter enjoy day of statistical bonds

July, 16, 2014
Jul 16
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Mike Trout grew up in New Jersey, watching and admiring Derek Jeter.

Little did he know that, in 2014, he’d not only share the field with Jeter, but share some statistical synergy in that year’s All-Star Game.

Trout was the most valuable player of Jeter’s final All-Star Game, and both played an integral role in the American League’s 5-3 win over the National League.

Jeter and Trout were the only two players with two hits for the American League. Trout claimed an MVP honor that Jeter won in 2000, the same year he won the last of three straight World Series titles.

Trout became the third player to have multiple extra-base hits in an All-Star Game before turning 23. The others were Ted Williams (1941) and Ken Griffey Jr (1992).

Griffey is the only player younger than the 22-year-old Trout to win MVP honors, having won that award as a 22-year-old (106 days younger than Trout) in 1992.

Trout also became the second player in All-Star Game history with a double, triple and two RBIs in an All-Star Game, joining Earl Averill of the 1934 Cleveland Indians.

The 40-year-old Jeter became the oldest player with multiple hits in an All-Star Game, passing Carl Yastrzemski (age 39 in 1979). The oldest Yankees player prior to Jeter was the third-oldest with multiple hits all-time, Babe Ruth (age 38 in 1933).

Jeter finished 13-for-27 in his All-Star career. His .481 batting average is second-best in All-Star Game history (perhaps appropriate for a player who wears No. 2). The all-time leader among those with at least 15 plate appearances is second baseman Charlie Gehringer, who hit .500.

Trout may surpass them both someday. In three All-Star Games, he’s 4-for-7 (.571) with two singles, a double and a triple.

Coincidentally, Jeter also had four hits in his first seven All-Star Game at-bats.

One player Trout beat out for MVP honors was two-time reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera.

Cabrera became the first Tigers player to homer in an All-Star Game since fan-favorite Lou Whitaker did in 1986.

It was a day for retro-Tigers celebration. Max Scherzer won with a scoreless inning of relief, the first Tigers pitcher to win an All-Star Game since Jim Bunning in 1957.

Twins reliever Glen Perkins, a Minnesota native, became the third pitcher to earn an All-Star Game save in his home ballpark, joining Mickey Lolich (1971 Tigers) and Kaz Sasaki (2001 Mariners).

The losing pitcher would have a Minnesota connection too -- former Twins reliever Pat Neshek, who grew up in Minnesota. He became the first Cardinals pitcher to lose an All-Star Game since Mort Cooper in 1943.

Power by Scherzer, bats too much for Rays

July, 3, 2014
Jul 3
10:53
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Thanks to Max Scherzer and an early power display, the Detroit Tigers opened up a four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays with an 8-1 win.

Scherzer dominates
Max Scherzer fell three outs short of the second complete game of his career, but he might have been even more dominant than he was in his shutout on May 12.

Scherzer allowed only two hits and one walk in his eight innings. It was only the second time in his career that he allowed three or fewer baserunners while recording at least 21 outs. He had an identical line – 8 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 7 K – against the Cleveland Indians last May.

He did it with a much more effective fastball than over the last month. While posting a 4.81 ERA in June, he threw fastballs at least half the time in every game and 27 percent of his heaters were up in the zone. On Thursday, under half of his pitches were fastballs and on 19 percent were up.

Due to the better location, opposing hitters were only 1-for-14 with four strikeouts against his heater. During June, opponents hit .263 against his fastball.

It was Scherzer’s fourth straight win against the Rays after going 0-2 in his first three starts against Tampa Bay.

It was over when...
The Tigers scored five runs in the first inning. The Rays have been held to four or fewer runs in each of their last 19 meetings against Detroit.

According to Elias, that’s the longest streak in the American League since 1996-98, when the New York Yankees held the Toronto Blue Jays to four or fewer runs in 23 straight meetings.

Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter all hit home runs in the first inning. The Tigers are just the sixth team to hit three homers in an inning this season and the second to do so in the first (the other is the Los Angeles Angels on April 13 against the New York Mets).

Kernels: A week of fine lines

June, 29, 2014
Jun 29
8:34
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Our weekly look at the interesting and unusual in major-league baseball brings you a little quiz. All of these hitting or pitching lines happened this week. See if you can guess who had them.

A. 1-for-1, GS, 2 BB, 2 HBP
B. SHO, 1 hit, 0 BB, 11 K
C. 1-for-1, 2B, SH, run (hint: major-league debut)
D. 0-for-7, RBI
E. 7 IP, 13 K, no decision
F. 7 IP, 0 R, 0 BB (another debut)
G. 0-for-2, 4 runs
H. 9-for-14, 2 BB, 4 runs


A. Devin Mesoraco of the Cincinnati Reds had only one at-bat in Monday's win, but it was a ninth-inning grand slam to beat the Chicago Cubs. In his first four plate appearances he drew two walks and was hit twice.

He's the first player in at least 100 years with a home run, two walks, and two hit by pitches in a game. It was 61 years to the day since any player had a grand slam and two hit by pitches (never mind the walks). Another catcher, Del Rice of the St. Louis Cardinals, did it on June 23, 1953, in a 15-8 win over the Giants.



B. Josh Tomlin twirled this gem for the Cleveland Indians on Saturday. The Seattle Mariners' lone hit was a fifth-inning single by Kyle Seager.

Only one other pitcher in Indians history had thrown a one-hit shutout with no walks and double-digit strikeouts: Len Barker, in his perfect game on May 15, 1981.


C. One more hint: The hitter in question is a pitcher.

It's Marco Gonzales of the Cardinals, who made his debut on Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies. The last Cardinal pitcher with an extra-base hit and a run scored in his debut was John Stuper, who tripled against the Giants on June 1, 1982.

The last pitcher with an extra-base hit, a run, and a sacrifice in his debut (for any team): Earl Caldwell of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1928.


D. This is Jayson Werth's ledger from Tuesday's 16-inning victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. His first-inning groundout gave rise to the RBI, he's the first player this year, and the third in franchise history, to go 0-for-at-least-7 and still drive in a run. The others were Ryan Zimmerman in 2008 and Al Oliver in 1983.

Danny Espinosa also went 0-for-7, making them the first Washington Nationals to both go 0-for-at-least-7 in the same game. Otis Nixon and Herm Winningham were the last pair of Expos to do it, against the Braves on July 2, 1988.


E. Max Scherzer allowed two early runs Saturday, but was bailed out by Ian Kinsler's homer in the ninth. Scherzer is the first Detroit Tigers pitcher to work 7+ innings, strike out 13+, and not win the game, in over four decades. Mickey Lolich had their previous five such games, the last being July 31, 1971, in a 12-inning complete-game loss to the Angels.


F. This line is the pitching debut of the Padres' Odrisamer Despaigne on Monday. It's the first scoreless debut to last at least seven innings in the majors this year; no pitcher had it done for the Padres since Ricky Bones pulled it off on August 11, 1991.

Despaigne also worked those seven scoreless innings without issuing a walk, something only one other pitcher (Scott Lewis of the Indians in 2008) had done in 25 years. And Despaigne was just the second pitcher in Padres history with a run-free, walk-free debut lasting at least seven innings. Jimmy Jones threw a one-hitter against the Astros (the one hit was a triple by opposing pitcher Bob Knepper) on September 21, 1986.


G. Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves drew three walks on Saturday to set up this line. Although Brett Gardner also scored four runs on zero hits earlier this year, only nine players have done it in the past 35 years, and Freeman is the first Braves hitter with that line in the live-ball era.


H. Trick question. These are the combined lines of Ender Inciarte and Gerardo Parra in the Arizona Diamondbacks' 14-inning win on Tuesday. They are the first one-two hitters to each have four hits and a walk since Ryan Spilborghs and Clint Barmes did it for the Rockies on July 4, 2008.

Scherzer finally a finisher

June, 13, 2014
Jun 13
1:05
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Max Scherzer had done just about everything possible from a pitching perspective over the last two seasons. He filled in a missing blank on Thursday with his first career complete game, a three-hit shutout against the Chicago White Sox

Scherzer made 178 starts before finishing what he started.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that before Scherzer, the pitcher who had started the most games in baseball's modern era without ever completing one was Tony Armas (167).

Scherzer was in need of a start like this. He entered the night with a 6.84 ERA and .354 opponents’ batting average in his four previous starts.

The Tigers ace has won his last four decisions against the White Sox. This season, he’s 3-0 with an 0.86 ERA against them. He’s also 16-1 against AL Central teams over the last two seasons.

Key matchup: Scherzer vs Jose Abreu
Scherzer has done a nice job against Jose Abreu, holding him to one hit in 10 at-bats in the three meetings between the teams.

On Thursday, Abreu was 0 for 4. Scherzer threw 11 pitches to Abreu and all 11 were in the lower half of the strike zone or below.

That was smart, considering that Abreu is hitting .389 with misses on 20 percent of his swings in the upper half of the zone, but is hitting .199 with a 39 percent miss rate in the lower half or below.

Long-lasting stuff
Scherzer averaged 93 mph with his fastball and that velocity held through the final three innings of the game. His fastest pitch of the game was his last pitch of the game—a 96 mph fastball to freeze Dayan Viciedo.

Next-up: Bud Norris
Now that Scherzer has a complete game, the current pitcher with the most career starts without one is Bud Norris of the Baltimore Orioles (139).

The wins keep coming for Scherzer

November, 13, 2013
11/13/13
8:14
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ESPN Stats & InformationMax Scherzer was tough on lefties and almost impossible for righties to get a hit against
Wins were the name of the game for Detroit Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer this season, and he added a big win to his ledger by claiming the AL Cy Young Award on Wednesday night.

The history
Scherzer became the fourth different Tigers pitcher to win the Cy Young.

He and teammate Justin Verlander have won two of the last three. The other two Tigers pitchers to win a Cy Young are Denny McLain (1968 and 1969) and Willie Hernandez (1984).

Scherzer became the fifth AL pitcher in the Wild Card era (since 1995) to start the All-Star Game and win the Cy Young in the same season.

The other four are Randy Johnson (1995 Mariners), Pedro Martinez (1999 Red Sox), Roger Clemens (2001 Yankees) and Cliff Lee (2008 Indians).

Major impovements
Scherzer took a major leap forward statistically in 2013 in a number of areas.

His ERA dropped from 3.74 to 2.90, helped by his walks per nine innings decreasing from 2.9 to 2.4 and his home runs allowed decreasing from 23 to 18, all this despite pitching 26 2/3 more innings

In interviews after winning the award, Scherzer credited the development of his curveball to his success.

He began mixing the pitch in to his repertoire against left-handed hitters, throwing it to them at a rate of once every nine pitches.

Though the pitch itself didn't net a lot of outs, it added another element for hitters to consider when facing him.

Opposing numbers against Scherzer's fastball and changeup both dropped considerably from 2012 to 2013, as shown in the chart on the right.

Overall lefties went from hitting .292 and slugging .465 against Scherzer in 2012 to hitting .222 with a .367 slugging percentage in 2013.

Scherzer also took his game to another level against right-handed hitters, as the heat map atop this article shows. He held them to a lowest-in-baseball .165 batting average.

Did you know?
The first round of the 2006 Amateur Draft produced both Cy Young Award winners this season. Scherzer was picked 11th overall, four picks after the Dodgers selected Clayton Kershaw and one pick after the Giants selected Tim Lincecum.

Those three pitchers have combined to win five Cy Young Awards in the past six seasons.

Top stats to know: 2013 Cy Young race

November, 13, 2013
11/13/13
2:15
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ESPN Stats & InformationClayton Kershaw dominated lefties and righties, putting him among the NL Cy Young Award finalists.
The National League and American League Cy Young Awards will be announced Wednesday night, with Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw and Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer the favorites to win in their respective leagues.

Why they’re favored

Kershaw was the dominant pitcher in the National League throughout 2013. He began his season with a shutout of the San Francisco Giants on Opening Day, which set the tone for one of the best seasons by a lefty in a long time.

Kershaw’s highest ERA for the year at the end of any start was 2.14 on April 23. He finished with a major league-best 1.83 ERA, the best by any southpaw since Ron Guidry had a 1.74 ERA for the New York Yankees in 1978. He joined Sandy Koufax and Greg Maddux as the only NL pitchers to win three consecutive ERA titles.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kershaw would be the fifth pitcher to win multiple Cy Young Awards before turning 26, joining Bret Saberhagen, Denny McLain, Roger Clemens and Tim Lincecum.

In the American League, Scherzer was 21-3, becoming the sixth pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) with at least 20 wins in a season in which he had three losses or fewer. He led the American League in WHIP and ranked second with 240 strikeouts. He pitched a career-high 214 1/3 innings and posted both the lowest home run rate of his career and the best strikeout-to-walk ratio.

According to Elias, since 1967, the first year that the Cy Young Award was handed out in both leagues, 13 other pitchers have finished a season at least 18 games above .500. Only one didn’t win the Cy Young that year. In 1999, Mike Hampton went 22-4 for the Houston Astros but lost out to Randy Johnson.

Darvish, Iwakuma will be the first
No Japanese-born pitcher has ever finished in the top three in the Cy Young vote, but that is assured of being broken this season. Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish and Seattle Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma are the other two finalists with Scherzer in the American League.

The previous high finish by a Japanese-born pitcher was fourth -- done twice by Hideo Nomo (1995, 1996) and Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2008.

Wainwright, Fernandez formidable finalists
The other NL finalists are Adam Wainwright from the St. Louis Cardinals and Jose Fernandez from the Miami Marlins.

Wainwright led the NL with 19 wins and 241 2/3 innings pitched. His season was fueled by a 17-start stretch spanning from mid-April to early July in which he had a 2.19 ERA and allowed only five homers in 127 2/3 innings pitched.

Fernandez, who won NL Rookie of the Year honors Monday, closed his debut season in strong fashion -- 10-3 with a 1.50 ERA in his last 18 starts. Fernandez would be the second player to win the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year in the same season, joining Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

What the advanced stats show
Kershaw led the major leagues in Wins Above Replacement as a pitcher (7.9), a little bit better than Cliff Lee of the Philadelphia Phillies (7.3).

Iwakuma was the American League leader (7.0), though his margin was thin over Chris Sale (6.9) and Scherzer (6.7).

Did you know?
If Scherzer and Kershaw win, it would mark the first time that both Cy Young Award winners lost the game that knocked their team out of that year’s postseason. Kershaw and Scherzer were the losing pitchers when the Dodgers and Tigers were eliminated in the championship series round.

Kernels: Postseason in review

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
11:02
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By now you've probably heard that the Boston Red Sox won the World Series. And that a couple of the games had endings (a pickoff, an obstruction call) the likes of which we'd never seen before in the postseason. (We here at Kernels were hoping for Game 5 to end on a pitch getting stuck in the umpire's mask. That's an automatic base, you know.)

To get to the World Series, however, the 10 postseason teams had to play 32 other games first. So let's recap a few of our favorite nuggets from the earlier rounds.

•  The Tigers lost ALDS Game 2 to the Athletics on Stephen Vogt's walk-off single. It was Detroit's first 1-0 postseason loss in team history. The Tigers and Reds had been the only two original franchises without such a loss. Ten days later, the Tigers lost Game 3 of the ALCS on Mike Napoli's solo homer, becoming the first team since the 1991 Braves and 1991 Pirates to drop two 1-0 games in the same postseason.

Napoli's homer was the first in 12 years to be the only run of a postseason game; Jorge Posada's solo shot for the Yankees held up to beat the Athletics in Game 3 of the 2001 ALDS (better known for Derek Jeter’s flip relay throw that nailed Jeremy Giambi at the plate).

Justin Verlander allowed Napoli's run and became just the second pitcher to take a loss with one run, one walk, and double-digit strikeouts. Brooklyn's Don Newcombe was the other, as he gave up a walk-off homer to the Yankees' Tommy Henrich in the 1949 World Series (the first walk-off home in the Fall Classic).

•  The Tigers also won a 1-0 game this October; that's the ALCS opener where Daniel Nava's 9th-inning single was Boston's only hit.

Anibal Sanchez walked six in that game, becoming the first pitcher with zero hits, six walks, and a dozen strikeouts in any game since Nolan Ryan's no-hitter for the Angels in 1974. It was just the second game in postseason history where a team's only hit came in the ninth inning; the other was Cookie Lavagetto's pinch-hit walk-off double for the Dodgers against the Yankees in a near no-hitter by Bill Bevens in the 1947 World Series.

Max Scherzer fanned 13 in Game 2, giving the Tigers the second set of teammates with 12-strikeout games in the same postseason series. The other pair was Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott for the 1986 Astros.

Scherzer got a no-decision when David Ortiz hit his grand slam in the eighth. Thanks to Tigers pitching changes, all four runs were charged to different hurlers, just the ninth grand slam ever to have that quirk. Boston's six runs in the game came off six different pitchers, the first time in the live-ball era-- regular or postseason-- that a team had scored six or more runs with every opposing pitcher being charged with exactly one.

•  Shane Victorino also hit a grand slam in the ALCS. Not only did that make the Red Sox the first AL team with two postseason slams since the 1987 Twins (Dan Gladden, Kent Hrbek), but it was the second of Victorino's career. He had one with the Phillies in 2008. Jim Thome is the only other player with two grand slams in postseason play.

Victorino-- who led the AL with 18 hit-by-pitches in the regular season-- got plunked twice more by the Rays in Game 4 of the ALDS. He's the first Red Sox hitter ever to get hit twice in a postseason game.

•  The Dodgers' four homers in NLCS Game 5 were the most ever by a single team in a postseason game at Dodger Stadium. Adrian Gonzalez hit two; he and Carl Crawford (who did it in the Division Series) became the first Dodgers teammates with multi-homer games in the same postseason since Davey Lopes and Steve Garvey in 1978. The Dodgers also had an NLCS game with two triples (including the one that Yasiel Puig initially thought was a homer). They were the only National League team without a multi-triple game in the regular season.

•  Jacoby Ellsbury had two singles, a double, and a triple in ALCS Game 4. The last Red Sox player with a four-hit postseason game as a leadoff hitter was Ellsbury in the 2007 World Series. Only one other player had done it in team history: Wally Moses in 1946.

And only one other major-leaguer has two such games in his career: Mickey Rivers of the Yankees. Ellsbury was also the second Boston hitter to go single-double-triple in the postseason; Mike Stanley did it in the 1999 ALDS.

•  When facing elimination, the old saying is "everybody's available". In Game 4 of the ALDS, the Rays ran nine different pitchers to the mound, the first team in postseason history to use that many in a nine-inning game.

Jeremy Hellickson was pulled after allowing two walks and a single to start the 2nd inning; Jamey Wright got out of it without any damage. Hellickson thus became the second starting pitcher in postseason history to work one inning (or less), allow zero runs, and leave for non-injury reasons.

Curly Ogden of the Senators was used as a decoy in Game 7 of the 1924 World Series so that Giants manager John McGraw would set his lineup for a righty, but after two batters the defense switched to southpaw George Mogridge. It worked; that game gave Washington its only World Series title.

Red Sox handle curves en route to Pennant

October, 20, 2013
10/20/13
1:06
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Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsShane Victorino's seventh inning grand slam propelled the Red Sox into the World Series.
The Boston Red Sox advanced to its 12th World Series in franchise history and first since sweeping the Colorado Rockies in 2007 by virtue of a 5-2 win against the Detroit Tigers in Game 6 of the ALCS.

This sets the table for a World Series between the Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals for the fourth time. The Cardinals won the first two meetings in 1946 and 1967 (both in seven games). Boston swept the Cardinals in 2004 to famously win its first World Series since 1918.

It will be the first World Series featuring teams with the best regular season records in the American and National Leagues since 1999 when the New York Yankees played the Atlanta Braves.

The pennant is even sweeter considering this was a last-place team a year ago.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Red Sox are the seventh team since 1990 to reach the World Series following a season in which they finished in last place.

FLYIN’ HAWAIIAN BREAKS SLUMP IN GRAND WAY
The winning hit for Boston came off the bat of Shane Victorino, who hit the go-ahead grand slam in the seventh inning to give the Red Sox a 5-2 lead. At the time, Victorino was mired in a 2-for-23 slump).

He’s the eighth player in MLB postseason history to hit a go-ahead grand slam in the seventh inning or later and the first in baseball history with multiple go-ahead grand slams in the postseason.

Victorino’s hit came on an 0-2 curveball from Jose Veras. He might have had an indication of what was to come as over the last three regular seasons, Veras had thrown 171 pitches on 0-2 counts, with 81 percent of them being curveballs.

That’s the highest curveball usage on an 0-2 count in the majors over this span (minimum 100 pitches thrown).

Boston is the first team in MLB history to hit two game-tying/go-ahead grand slams in the seventh inning or later in a single postseason (David Ortiz hit the other one in Game 2 of this series).

ALCS FACTS
• Koji Uehara is the third relief pitcher to win the ALCS MVP, joining Mariano Rivera in 2003 and Dennis Eckersley in 1988.

• The Red Sox improved to 6-0 all-time in ALCS Game 6s and won their first best-of-7 postseason series after being tied 2-2.

In this series, Uehara went 1-0 with three saves while allowing no runs on four hits in six innings pitched.

• In relief of Max Scherzer, the Tigers bullpen threw 2⅔ innings, allowing seven earned runs on six hits (including those two grand slams).

• Prince Fielder went 4-for-22 (.182) with five strikeouts and no home runs or RBI in this series.

Sanchez, Tigers starters dominate ALCS

October, 17, 2013
10/17/13
2:39
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Al Bello/Getty Images
Anibal Sanchez gets the ball for Game 6 after holding the Red Sox hitless for six innings in Game 1.

The Detroit Tigers evened the ALCS up at two games apiece with their 7-3 victory Wednesday night.

Now, they get a chance to go up 3-2 on the Boston Red Sox as they send Anibal Sanchez to the mound in Game 5 tonight.

In his Game 1 start, Sanchez threw six no-hit innings before being removed in Detroit’s 1-0 victory. He was the first pitcher in postseason history to go at least six innings and be pulled with a no-hitter intact.

He’s also the fourth pitcher in MLB postseason history to go at least six innings without allowing a hit. In two of the others, the pitcher went on to complete the no-hitter (Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series and Roy Halladay in the 2010 NLDS). The third instance was in the 1999 ALDS, when Pedro Martinez threw six hitless innings in relief.

How was Sanchez able to dominate Red Sox hitters? By getting them to chase pitches with two strikes.

Red Sox hitters chased 41 percent of pitches in two-strike counts in Game 1, compared to just 17 percent before two strikes. Seven of his 12 strikeouts came on pitches out of the zone.

It wasn’t just Sanchez flustering Boston hitters in Game 1, but the Tigers bullpen did its part as well, allowing one hit in three shutout innings with no walks and five strikeouts.

In the game, Tigers pitchers struck out 17 Red Sox batters, tying the record for most strikeouts by a staff in a nine-inning postseason game.

The Detroit pitching dominance has been a continuing theme in the series. The four-man staff of Sanchez, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Doug Fister has combined for 42 strikeouts in the first four games of the series.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the most strikeouts for a team’s starters in the first four games of any series in postseason history. In addition, that group's total of one run allowed per nine innings pitched (3 R in 27 IP) is the second-lowest for any starting staff through the first four games of a League Championship Series.

The only staff with a better mark in an LCS was... last year’s Tigers, whose staff allowed two runs in the first 27 1/3 innings pitched.

In the two ALCS, those four Tigers starters have combined for a 5-1 record, with a 0.83 ERA, .146 opponents’ batting average and more than 11 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched.

Ortiz's grand slam powers improbable win

October, 14, 2013
10/14/13
1:15
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AP Photo/Charlie RiedelJarrod Saltalamacchia’s walk-off single capped an improbable Red Sox comeback.
Trailing 5-1 and five outs away from facing a 2-0 deficit in the ALCS, the Boston Red Sox win probability stood at 3.8 percent.

Then everything changed with one swing.

David Ortiz hit a first-pitch changeup from Joaquin Benoit for a game-tying grand slam. It was the first game-tying grand slam in the eighth inning or later in postseason history.

It was Ortiz’s fifth career go-ahead or game-tying hit in the eighth inning or later of the postseason, one shy of tying Bernie Williams and Pete Rose for the most all-time.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia would drive in Jonny Gomes in the ninth for his first career postseason walk-off hit and the first by a Red Sox catcher since Carlton Fisk's home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

Just how unlikely was this comeback?
After a four-run top of the sixth, the Detroit Tigers led 5-0. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, teams with a lead of five or more runs in the postseason were 459-14 (.970).

Max Scherzer had been staked to a 5-run lead 24 times in his career (including postseason). His teams were 24-0 in those games.

The Red Sox became only the sixth team in postseason history to overcome a four-run deficit in the eighth inning or later to win.

Red Sox flip the switch
Making the comeback even more unlikely was the fact that prior to the four-run eighth inning, the Red Sox had only three hits in their last 16 innings.

After being no-hit by Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers for 8 1/3 innings in Game 1, Red Sox hitters were held hitless by Max Scherzer for 5 2/3 innings Sunday in Game 2.

The Red Sox became the first team in postseason history to be held hitless through 5 innings in consecutive games. During the last four regular seasons, the Red Sox played 324 games at Fenway Park. Not once were they no-hit through five innings.

Strikeouts piling up
The Tigers' loss overshadowed another dominant performance by Max Scherzer. Scherzer became the fifth pitcher in postseason history with 13 or more strikeouts and two or fewer hits allowed.

Scherzer’s no-hit bid of 5 2/3 innings tied the longest of his career. It was his third career postseason no-hit bid of at least 5 IP (2011 ALDS and 2012 ALCS). According to Elias, he’s the first pitcher in postseason history with three career no-hit bids of at least five innings.

The Tigers finished Game 2 with 15 strikeouts after striking out 17 Red Sox hitters in Game 1. Their 32 strikeouts are the most by a pitching staff in consecutive games in postseason history.

Day of comebacks in Boston
Just four hours prior to the Red Sox pulling off their comeback, the Patriots had one of their own, stunning the Saints on a Tom Brady TD pass to Kenbrell Thompkins with five seconds remaining.

When the Saints punted up four points with 1:20 remaining, the Patriots had a win probability of just 5.3 percent.

Turning point: Scherzer’s escape

October, 8, 2013
10/08/13
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The best pitcher in the American League in 2013 was the best pitcher when the Detroit Tigers most needed three outs in Game 4 of their series against the Oakland Athletics.

Max Scherzer’s bases-loaded escape with a one-run lead in the eighth inning was the highlight of a win that forced a Game 5 on Thursday night.

Out No. 1: Josh Reddick
Athletics slugger Reddick gave Scherzer a tough battle, getting ahead in the count 3-1 before fouling off a pair of 95 mph pitches.

After throwing six straight pitches of 94 mph or faster, Scherzer pulled the string on an 85 mph changeup.

Scherzer gave up three hits with his changeup in this game, one shy of the most he allowed with the pitch in any game this season.

But this one induced a wild swing-and-a-miss for the first out.

Out No. 2: Stephen Vogt
Vogt was the hero of Game 2, getting the game-winning hit after striking out three times.

Coincidentally, the hit that put the Tigers ahead was one by a player who had struck out three times in this game, Austin Jackson.

Vogt got a hit in the seventh inning against Scherzer on an 88-mph changeup. He’d get an 0-2 changeup from Scherzer but foul it away.

Scherzer didn’t mess around with the next pitch. He threw it 98 mph.

Pitches that speed are tough to hit against anyone. Scherzer had thrown 77 of them in two-strike counts over the last three seasons (he rarely throws a pitch that fast early in the count). They netted 28 strikeouts and yielded only three hits.

Vogt made it 29 with his swing-and-miss.

Out No. 3: Alberto Callaspo
Within what was a very small sample, Callaspo had been pretty good with the bases loaded this season, particularly with two outs.

Callaspo had five turns in that situation prior to Game 4 with two walks and two singles. The one out was a line drive to center field.

He’d line to center again this time, the ball hanging up long enough for Jackson to snag it.

Inning over, one-run lead preserved.

Stat of the Day
The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that before Thursday, there had never been a postseason game in which the team at bat had the bases loaded and nobody out and didn't score in the eighth inning or later of a game in which the team in the field had a lead of exactly one run (there were four instances in which that situation came up).

In other words, an escape of this sort had never happened before this late in a game.

But Scherzer was the right man for the job.

Opponents are now 0-for-13 with seven strikeouts with the bases loaded against Scherzer in 2013.

He’s faced 14 hitters with the bases loaded in 2013 and only one, Eric Hosmer, produced a run in any way -- with a bases-loaded walk on April 24.

Vogt's clutch hit breaks scoreless tie

October, 6, 2013
10/06/13
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Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY SportsStephen Vogt’s first career postseason hit was a walk-off hit.
Stephen Vogt only had 34 career regular-season hits. Appearing in his first postseason, he had no postseason hits.

But his first career postseason hit was quite the notable one, as his RBI single gave the Oakland Athletics a 1-0 walk-off win to tie their Division Series with the Detroit Tigers at 1-1.

Vogt is the first player with a walk-off hit as his first career postseason hit since Carlos Guillen in 2000 for the Seattle Mariners against the Chicago White Sox, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Vogt's 34 career regular-season hits are the second-fewest by any player at the time of a postseason walk-off hit. The only player with fewer was George Vukovich, who had 23 career regular-season hits at the time of his walk-off, in the 1981 NLDS for the Philadelphia Phillies against the Montreal Expos.

Vogt is the seventh player in MLB postseason history with a walk-off hit to break a scoreless tie. The last player to do so was Jeff Kent for the Houston Astros in the 2004 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Athletics are the eighth team in MLB postseason history with a walk-off win to break a scoreless tie (in addition to the seven hits listed in the chart on the right, the Astros won with a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 1980 NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies).

The Athletics' 1-0 walk-off win was the first 1-0 walk-off win in an MLB postseason game since Gene Larkin's walk-off single for the Minnesota Twins to win the 1991 World Series.

Don’t forget about the pitching
There was a reason why the game was scoreless in the ninth inning -- great pitching.

Justin Verlander struck out 11 batters in seven innings, while Sonny Gray struck out nine in eight innings.

Verlander and Max Scherzer are the first pair of teammates in postseason history with at least 11 strikeouts in back-to-back games.

Gray is the fifth rookie pitcher in postseason history with at least eight scoreless innings in his first career postseason start, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Gray is one of two rookie pitchers in history (Mike Boddicker, 1983 White Sox) with at least eight scoreless innings and nine strikeouts in his first career postseason start.

It was the first game in postseason history in which both starters had at least nine strikeouts and no runs allowed.

Scherzer dominates in Tigers win

October, 5, 2013
10/05/13
2:12
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AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezMax Scherzer relied heavily on his fastball and changeup in Friday’s win.
Max Scherzer stole the show in Game 1, as the Detroit Tigers ace dominated the Oakland Athletics.

He struck out 11 and allowed three hits in seven innings, becoming the first pitcher with 11 strikeouts and three or fewer hits in a postseason road win since Cliff Lee in 2010. Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens are the only other pitchers to do so in the last 15 postseasons.

Scherzer tied Justin Verlander (three times) for the third-most strikeouts by a Tigers pitcher in a postseason game. Only Joe Coleman (14 in 1972) and Bill Donovan (12 in 1907) have had more than 11 strikeouts among Tigers pitchers.

Those 11 strikeouts are tied for the fourth-most by any pitcher against the Athletics in a postseason game. Only Coleman -- whose 1972 performance listed above came against the A’s -- along with Tom Seaver (12 in 1973) and Jim Palmer (12 in 1973) had more.

Scherzer now has the second-most career strikeouts per nine innings pitched (11.5) in MLB postseason history. Only Adam Wainwright (11.6) has more among pitchers with at least five postseason starts.

It was Scherzer’s fastball-changeup combination that powered his success against Oakland.

All but 11 of his 118 pitches were either a fastball or changeup. Six of his strikeouts came via fastball while the other five were with his changeup.

He threw a season-high 35 changeups overall and the A’s were 1-for-11 against the pitch Friday.

As a team, Detroit’s pitchers tallied 16 strikeouts, the most by an American League team in the postseason since 2004, when the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins each had 16 against the New York Yankees.

The only teams to strike out more than 16 in an AL postseason game were the Baltimore Orioles in 1997 (21 vs. Indians) and the Cleveland Indians in 1996 (23 vs. Orioles).

The 16 strikeouts by Tigers pitchers are the most for the Tigers in a postseason game. The 16 strikeouts by Athletics batters are the most for the A's in a postseason game.

Top things to know: Tigers vs Athletics

October, 4, 2013
10/04/13
1:18
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Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsMax Scherzer has the second lowest road ERA among AL starting pitchers this season.
The Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics begin their ALDS tonight (9:37 ET/ESPN Radio) in Oakland. Here are some storylines to follow.

1. This is the fourth all-time meeting in the postseason (1972 ALCS, 2006 ALCS and 2012 ALDS). The Tigers have won nine of the 14 all-time postseason meetings, including seven of the last nine.

Oakland won the regular season series this year, taking four of the seven games, including three of the last four, in which they outscored the Tigers 34-20.

2. These two teams have not had much success in the postseason lately. Detroit has lost four straight postseason games. They have not lost at least five straight since 1907-08, when they lost six in a row. In addition, the Tigers have lost 11 of their last 16 road postseason games.

Oakland comes into this postseason having lost seven of its last nine playoff games.

The A’s have made the playoffs seven times since 2000 (including this year) and only once have they advanced to the ALCS (2006, lost to Detroit).

3. Max Scherzer is 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA in seven postseason appearances (six starts). In his only postseason appearance against the Athletics (Game 4 of the 2012 ALDS), Scherzer went 5⅓ innings, allowing one run while striking out eight in a no-decision.

This season, Scherzer went 9-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 16 road starts. He only allowed more than three earned runs once in his 16 road starts. James Shields is the only AL starter who had a lower ERA away from home (2.07).

4. Bartolo Colon will take the ball for Oakland tonight. He is starting the first game of a postseason series for a third different team (he started twice for Cleveland and once for the Angels).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, five other pitchers made Game 1 starts for three different teams – Roger Clemens (Red Sox, Yankees, Astros), Tommy John (Angels, Dodgers, Yankees), Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks, Astros, Mariners), Jack Morris (Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays) and Curt Schilling (Phillies, Red Sox, Diamondbacks).

The only other 40-year-old to start a postseason game for the Athletics was Jack Quinn (46 years old) in the 1929 World Series.

5. What sort of impact will Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder make? The 2012 Triple Crown winner hit over .350 with 43 home runs over the first five months of the season, but all but disappeared in September.

Fielder is hitting .183 (19-for-104) in 28 career postseason games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his average is the third lowest among active players with at least 50 postseason at-bats.

Only Alex Avila (.129) and Nick Swisher (.165) have worse averages.

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