DETROIT — With almost two months left in the season, Max Scherzer has already equaled his career high in wins.
He’s also closing in on another lofty mark — 1,000 strikeouts.
“Wins are important for the team, and I’m up about that,” Scherzer said. “But to reach milestones for your career, sometimes that’s a better personal reflection of yourself.”
Scherzer will have to wait for that 1,000th strikeout after falling one short Saturday night, but the Detroit right-hander took a shutout into the eighth inning, and the bullpen held on in the Tigers’ 3-0 victory over the punchless Chicago White Sox. Scherzer became baseball’s first 16-game winner.
The White Sox have lost nine straight. The AL Central-leading Tigers have won 11 of 12, despite playing most of that stretch without slugger Miguel Cabrera.
“I’ve always said that we have so much talent in this clubhouse,” Scherzer said. “Miggy’s a big part of it, but even without Miggy, there’s plenty of guys in here that are very capable of dominating in the major leagues.”
Cabrera has been bothered by hip and abdominal problems and sat out Saturday.
Scherzer (16-1) allowed three hits in 7 2-3 innings. Jose Veras got the third out of the eighth, and Joaquin Benoit finished for his 12th save in 12 chances.
John Danks (2-9) allowed six hits in seven innings, including solo homers by Torii Hunter, Jhonny Peralta and Jose Iglesias.
Scherzer is the first pitcher to win at least 16 of his first 17 decisions since Roger Clemens started 16-1 in 2001, according to STATS. Scherzer walked three and struck out six.
“It is pretty tough to do much against Scherzer right now,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s just got too much stuff. He can throw all of his off-speed pitches exactly where he wants them, and you can’t tell them apart from his fastball. So you are watching for the break, and you don’t have a chance to catch up to his velocity.”
Scherzer also won 16 games last season. He’s been the beneficiary of a lot of run support this year, but he didn’t need much against the White Sox. Hunter opened the scoring with a homer to left in the first.
“These are real baseball games. We love those close games, those tight games,” Hunter said. “Good pitching beats good hitting any day. Whenever they make a mistake, you just don’t want to miss it.”
Peralta — who faces a possible suspension from Major League Baseball’s drug investigation — made it 2-0 with a drive to the bushes beyond the center-field wall in the second.
Iglesias, acquired just before the trade deadline — partly as insurance against a possible suspension to Peralta — added a homer of his own in the fourth.
This was the second game with the Tigers for Iglesias. He hit one homer in 63 games for Boston this season.
The White Sox, meanwhile, got another sold start that they failed to take advantage of. The Chicago starters have a 2.72 ERA during this losing streak.
Chicago pinch-hitter Jordan Danks hit a long flyball in the eighth that center fielder Austin Jackson caught at the wall in left-center. When Veras came in, Alexei Ramirez jack-knifed out of the way on his first pitch — only to have the breaking ball drop across the heart of the plate for a strike.
The White Sox have scored two runs in their last three games.
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