DETROIT — Max Scherzer allowed two runs in the first inning – and by the time he took the mound again, he had a two-run lead.
It’s been that kind of season for the Detroit right-hander.
Scherzer won his 11th straight decision to start the year and Victor Martinez hit a first-inning grand slam to lead the Tigers to a 10-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.
Scherzer was terrific after that shaky beginning, and as usual his teammates gave him plenty of run support.
“It’s nice to start a season 11-0. It just means we’re playing great team baseball and I’m going out there and doing my job,” Scherzer said. “I’m credited a ton of run support. That’s when you’ve got to give all the credit to your teammates. Every time I feel like I go deep into a game, they’re going to pick me up. They have the whole entire season.”
Scherzer allowed a couple runs in the first, including a towering solo homer by David Ortiz, but Martinez’s drive put the Tigers ahead to stay. Martinez also hit an RBI double in the fifth, and Scherzer shut down Boston after the first. He allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings.
Allen Webster (0-2) gave up five runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings. He struck out five and walked two.
“The four runs given back in the first set the tone for the entire evening,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “I think he settled down after the first inning and pitched OK.”
Red Sox reliever Franklin Morales yielded four runs, including a two-run homer by Omar Infante. Farrell said Morales could go on the disabled list because of left shoulder discomfort.
Scherzer became the first pitcher to start 11-0 since Roger Clemens in 1997, according to STATS. The last to start 12-0 also was Clemens, during a 14-0 stretch to begin his AL MVP season in 1986.
“I realize that it takes so many other teammates to put me in that position,” Scherzer said. “This is a credit to the Detroit Tigers, for me being in this position. I know I’ve pitched well, and I know I’ve given my team a chance to win, but it doesn’t always go that way.”
The first two hitters singled off Scherzer, and Dustin Pedroia’s double-play grounder gave Boston a 1-0 lead. Ortiz’s 16th homer put the Red Sox up by two.
Detroit erased that deficit in a hurry. After singles by Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera drew a walk. Prince Fielder struck out, but Martinez’s line drive cleared the wall in right for his third career slam.
“It’s big, when you give an answer like that,” Martinez said. “It’s always big to come right back, especially with Max on the mound. Everybody knows how well he’s been throwing the ball.”
Scherzer allowed only two hits in the next four innings. In the fourth, Mike Carp’s tapper went for an infield hit, and he went to third on the play when Scherzer threw wildly to first for an error. Carp was stranded after Daniel Nava’s flyout.
Jose Iglesias appeared to have a double in the fifth, but he stumbled past second base while beating Hunter’s throw from right field and was tagged out.
Ortiz hit a drive in the sixth that Jackson ran down in deep left-center. Scherzer struck out his final batter in the seventh – Jarrod Saltalamacchia – for his sixth strikeout. He’s reached that mark in all 15 starts this year.
Scherzer lowered his ERA to 3.05. He’s received 7.84 runs of support per nine innings, the most in baseball.
The Tigers kept right on scoring Saturday. Andy Dirks singled, stole second and came home on Jackson’s single in the fourth. Webster was lifted with nobody on in the fifth, and Morales allowed a walk to Fielder, a run-scoring double by Martinez and an RBI single by Jhonny Peralta.
Infante’s homer in the seventh made it 9-2. Fielder hit into a bases-loaded double play in the eighth, bringing another run home.
Saltalamacchia hit an RBI single in the ninth.