Tigers pitcher nearly ties team strikeout record


Tigers pitcher nearly ties team strikeout record

From Comcast SportsNet
DETROIT (AP) -- Max Scherzer headed off the mound and toward the dugout, where manager Jim Leyland was waiting to offer a congratulatory handshake. After 15 strikeouts in seven innings, Scherzer's day was done, and the only question was whether the Detroit right-hander's fine effort would go to waste. "We're in this business to win," Scherzer said. And win the Tigers did. Alex Avila's tiebreaking, two-run single highlighted a three-run seventh that sent Detroit to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. Scherzer's 15 strikeouts were the most by a Tigers pitcher in 40 years, and his teammates wiped out a 2-1 deficit to get him the victory. Mickey Lolich had 15 strikeouts for the Tigers against Boston on Oct. 2, 1972, and set the club record of 16 in 1969, doing it twice in less than three weeks. Scherzer's 15 strikeouts were the most by a major league pitcher this year. Miami's Anibal Sanchez had 14 against Arizona on April 28. "We've wasted a few good performances this year already," Avila said. "Hopefully, that will kind of get us on a roll a little bit." Detroit trails first-place Cleveland by three games in the AL Central. Scherzer (3-3) threw 115 pitches. He allowed four hits, including two solo homers, and a walk. Avila's hit made it 4-2. Pittsburgh scored a run in the ninth off Joaquin Benoit, but he held on for his first save this season. Detroit closer Jose Valverde has a strained back. Kevin Correia (1-5) allowed three runs and four hits in six-plus innings. Scherzer gave up seven runs in 2 2-3 innings in his first start of the season, and although he's been better since then, he entered Sunday's game with a 6.26 ERA. He was locked in from the start, throwing his first 10 pitches for strikes before finally missing the zone against Pedro Alvarez, the first hitter of the second. Scherzer got Alvarez anyway for his third strikeout of the day. "Even when I've struggled, I've always believed the next time I go out there that I'm going to have a great start, no matter what," Scherzer said. "That's always been my belief ever since I've been in the big leagues, and today was no different." All 15 of Scherzer's strikeouts were swinging. The only other pitcher since 1988 to strike out at least 15 -- all swinging -- in a game was Houston's Mike Scott, who fanned 15 Cincinnati Reds on June 8, 1990, according to STATS LLC. "My changeup was really working well today. I was able to throw it to both lefties and righties, and I was able to generate swing-and-misses out of it," Scherzer said. "I was able to throw it for a strike and throw it just underneath the zone to help generate some swing-and-miss strikeouts." Scherzer had struck out five straight -- and 10 for the game -- when Rod Barajas homered with one out in the fifth to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Jhonny Peralta answered with a solo shot in the bottom half. Neil Walker hit a 407-foot homer in the sixth, and Scherzer's pitch count began creeping up, precluding a run at the big league record of 20 strikeouts for a nine-inning game. Scherzer was actually on the hook for a loss when Leyland offered his handshake after the top of the seventh, the signal that a reliever would be entering in the eighth. But Prince Fielder led off the bottom of the seventh with a blooper to left that dropped between shortstop Clint Barmes and left fielder Nate McLouth. Barmes had a long way to run because the infield was shifted around to the right, and when the ball hit the ground, it bounced weirdly up off him into foul territory, enabling Fielder to reach second with a double. Delmon Young followed with a tying single, and Tony Watson relieved Correia. Peralta drew a walk one out later, and a passed ball by Barajas allowed the runners to move up to second and third. The Pirates brought the infield in, but Avila's base hit up the middle foiled that strategy and made it 4-2. Detroit was without center fielder Austin Jackson (abdominal strain) and Valverde, but the Tigers ended up taking two of three from Pittsburgh. Scherzer and Justin Verlander bookended the series with brilliant pitching performances. Verlander threw a one-hit shutout Friday night, striking out 12 and giving up only a ninth-inning single to Josh Harrison. The Pirates struck out 17 times Sunday and 41 times in the series. NOTES: Detroit's Brennan Boesch had his 12-game hitting streak snapped. ... Pittsburgh dropped to 19-9 when scoring at least two runs. ... The Tigers are off Monday. The Pirates return home and will send LHP Erik Bedard (2-5) to the mound against Johan Santana (1-2) of the New York Mets.

Quick Links

Rookies, good friends come full circle by making Wizards roster

Rookies, good friends come full circle by making Wizards roster

One day after learning they both made the Wizards’ roster, undrafted rookies Danuel House and Sheldon McClellan walked through the halls of the Verizon Center to meet with reporters waiting to discuss the news. As they turned a corner, they played rock-paper-scissors to determine who would go first. House won, giving him the opportunity to not only get his part out of the way, but also to have some fun with the other during his media scrum.

House jumped and waved his arms. He made goofy faces, he stared intently. All of it was to mess with a guy he's been friends with for years.

They are new teammates in the NBA, but House and McClellan needed no introduction when they arrived at Wizards training camp. The two have been close since middle school when they were both kids growing up in Houston, Texas. 

McClellan, a 6-foot-6 guard, left Bellaire High School in 2011 first for the University of Texas before later transferring to Miami. House, a 6-foot-7 forward, starred at Hightower High School, began at the University of Houston in 2012 and later joined Texas A&M. 

They each took different paths, but here they are, both members of the Washington Wizards.

"It’s exciting. We’re like brothers," House, who averaged 15.6 points for the Aggies last season, said. 

"Just to see each other succeed, there’s no greater feeling in the world.  To see two people from Houston, Texas go undrafted and then make the roster, that’s big for our hometown and especially for our community. If you keep pushing and fighting, you never know what’s going to happen."

McClellan said learning he made the Wizards was the best moment of his life. His name was not called on draft night, but he defied the odds to not only make a roster, but join a team with playoff aspirations.

McClellan scored 16.3 points per game and shot 56.8 percent from the field for the Hurricanes as a senior during the 2015-16 season. He's ready to now take the next step in the NBA, and do it alongside House.

"It’s a special moment, as far as both of us being from Houston and both growing up playing against each other," McClellan said. "Now we have a chance to grow in this organization together. It’s just been a bonding thing from when we were little to now."

McClellan smiled as he spoke, but didn't break his focus when House did his comedy routine behind the cameras.

"I’m not even paying attention to him," McClellan said. "I knew he was going to stand there. I’m just not paying attention. That’s what he does."

McClellan also passed on an opportunity to fire back at House, who got a jab in during his own session with the media.

"We played against each other in high school. I won. That’s my man, but I won," House said.

They have been friendly foes often over the years. Now, they are teammates.

[RELATED: Wizards roster skews younger, more athletic under Brooks]

Quick Links

Morning tip: Andrew Nicholson blossoms into 'spread' option at center for Wizards

Morning tip: Andrew Nicholson blossoms into 'spread' option at center for Wizards

At $26 million, a relatively small number based on the free-agent market this summer, Andrew Nicholson could turn out to be a top five bargain for the Wizards.

The 6-9 forward was a first-round draft pick of the Orlando Magic in 2012. He came to Washington after averaging 6.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in four years but his role under coach Scott Brooks is broadening.

With Ian Mahinmi out because of left knee surgery, Nicholson is logging time as a backup center to Marcin Gortat, too, and his improving three-point stroke is giving the Wizards a legitimate spread five option.

“He can score down low at the block. He’s done a pretty good job of picking up how to guard the perimeter players that can shoot 3s,” Brooks said. “He’s played multiple positions at those two big spots. You need versatility. He’s picked things up pretty good.”


Aside from a variety of low-post moves and not shying away from physical play with his 250-pound frame, Nicholson made 47% of his three-point shots. He shot a career-high 36% from deep in Orlando last season.

He uses his lower body well to get into defenders and establish position under the basket. He can finish via jump hook with either hand. When Markieff Morris leaves, Nicholson will be the next man up. He has been effective in spot minutes as the center. They may have stumbled upon a wrinkle that otherwise might not have been so obvious with Mahinmi, who was sitting out practices at training camp with other ailments.

“He definitely has an old-man game. I think we’d be the 1 and 2 pick in the YMCA pickup game," Brooks said. "He knows how to play the game. There’s definitely a spot for guys like Drew He knows how to play the game. He understands his role. He’s not going to wow you with athleticism but he’s going to be a consistent performer every night.”

That quality alone will make Nicholson an upgrade.