St. Petersburg, FL – It's been 27 years since Roger Clemens began his first Cy Young Award campaign with a 12-0 record.
No hurler since has won their first 12 decisions, but that changed Friday when Max Scherzer accomplished the feat by pitching the Detroit Tigers past the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-3, in the opener of a three-game set at Tropicana Field.
Scherzer (12-0) remained undefeated by striking out nine over seven innings and allowing three runs on just four hits and a walk. His 12-0 record is the best start by a Tigers pitcher in the club's 113-year history.
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder provided most of Detroit's offense; the former going 4-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI, and the latter adding a two-run homer to help the Tigers bounce back from getting swept at home in three games by the Angels.
"The reason I'm 12-0 is because of my offense," a humble Scherzer said.
Wil Myers and Ben Zobrist each had solo homers for the Rays, who have dropped two in a row on the heels of a three-game winning streak. Alex Colome (1-1) battled through six innings and suffered his first loss after surrendering four runs on four hits and two walks.
Colome, making his third career start, twice caught too much of the plate early on against Cabrera, whose home run following Austin Jackson's leadoff walk and landed 12 rows deep into the left-field bleachers in the first inning.
The reigning American League Triple Crown winner smoked another Colome mistake about a dozen rows further than his first blast leading off the fourth, and Fielder used his legs to make it 3-0 later in the frame when he doubled, moved to third on a sacrifice fly and crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
Scherzer retired the first 11 batters he faced before Zobrist hammered a first-pitch fastball over the wall in right with two away in the fourth.
An inning later, Myers turned on a pitch and lined it down the left-field line for his third home run in his 11th career game, and in the seventh the rookie scored from first on Luke Scott's double off the right-field wall to pull the Rays within a run.
Scherzer, though, retired Jose Lobaton to strand Scott on second, and Fielder added some insurance with a gargantuan two-run moonshot to right that struck the catwalk on the roof.
"The home run by Fielder was no fun at all," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Al Alburquerque and Drew Smyly combined to silence Tampa Bay in the eighth, and Joaquin Benoit worked around a one-out single in the ninth to record his fifth save.
Scherzer has recorded at least six strikeouts in all 16 of his starts this season, the second longest streak in AL history. Pedro Martinez holds the AL record with a 29-game streak to begin the 2000 season ... Cabrera, who has 24 home runs this season, has recorded 28 career multi-homer games ... Colome had given up four runs -- all unearned -- over his first two outings ... The Rays fell to 4-15 in the past 19 meetings between the clubs.