Mad Max

This is a bit like taking a no-hitter into the late innings.

Your teammates stay away from you. No talking. No contact. They want nothing to do with you.

That's what baseball people do. A jinx, you know.

You don't want to be the black cat in the dugout.

Or in this case. the black Tiger.

Well, you could call this an extended no-hitter for Max Scherzer --- it's lasted 3 1/2 months.

"We text back and forth, but I don't bring it up," Missouri coach Tim Jamieson said of his former Tiger. "He would just scoff at it, anyway. But it's pretty special to watch."

Yes, what this former Missouri Tiger and current Detroit Tiger is doing would indeed fall under the "special" umbrella.

He's just the fifth pitcher since 1920 to start the season 13-0 --- the first in 27 years since Roger Clemens went 14-0. The best starts in history are 15-0 by Dave McNally (1969) and Johnny Allen (1937).

According to the man, however, it's no big deal.

"The record's kind of overblown," Scherzer told The Associated Press after beating Toronto last week. "I'm playing a part on a great team here. Every time I start, they're always picking me up, they're always making plays. That's the reason why I'm 13-0.

"I've gone out there and pitched well and always given our team a chance to win, but so have other guys."

True. While Scherzer is undefeated in the middle of July, his ERA is not 0.00. It's a very good --- but not spectacular --- 3.06.

"So much of it depends on the bullpen and if the guys score runs for you," said Jamieson, who recently completed his 19th season as head coach at Missouri.

Jamieson took a break from his family vacation in North Carolina to have a chat

"He's pitched great, obviously," Jamieson continued, "but he's had help from his teammates."

Scherzer, who will turn 29 on
July 27
, was a standout at Missouri. He was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and an All-American in 2005 when he had a sparkling 1.86 ERA and a school-record 131 strikeouts.

He was first drafted in 2003 (in the 43rd round) by the St. Louis Cardinals after his senior year at Parkway Central High School in St. Louis. Instead, he chose Missouri, and was later drafted in the first round (11th pick overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006, before being traded to Detroit in 2010.

"He's one of the most physically-talented guys I've ever seen," Jamieson said. "But just because the talent's there, that doesn't mean it's going to happen.

"When he pitched for us, he didn't have a secondary pitch. We were actually concerned a little bit when he threw an off-speed pitch, because it was so hittable. There were stretches where he would throw 25 to 30 consecutive fastballs and college hitters, with aluminum bats, knew it was coming.

"And they still couldn't hit it."

While he still has a fastball that approaches 100 mph, Scherzer now has command of a change-up, curve and slider. He's struck out 146 in 123 2/3 innings this season.

"It's been a progression at that level just like it was with us, just over a little bit longer period of time," Jamieson said. "He's learned how to pitch at that level, believing he can get people out. That's a big part of it, the confidence."

Scherzer had a no-decision Monday night at Cleveland, but his streak remained intact when the Tigers beat the Indians 4-2 in 10 innings.

"I don't want to focus on being 13-0," he told reporters after the game. "This was our best win of the year and I was proud to be a part of it."

Scherzer is one of five ex-Tigers currently on major-league rosters --- the most at one time in school-history. Also in The Show are Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler, and pitchers Aaron Crow (Kansas City), Nick Tepesch (Texas) and most recently, Kyle Gibson (Minnesota).

"With all those guys, the common denominator --- besides their physical talent --- is that they're competitors, hard-workers and they have great desire," Jamieson said.

"They're not just in the big leagues, but they're doing really well in the big leagues and they're getting a lot of notoriety. And we've got other guys in the minors who are close. We feel like we helped all these guys along, in some small way, and we can certainly sell that to recruits."

Kinsler has established himself as one of the best everyday players in baseball.

"I think you saw his value to the Rangers when he was on the DL," Jamieson said. "The team started losing and not scoring runs. When he got back, (the Rangers) immediately went on a winning streak and became a different team.

"I think he has that kind of impact on their team. He's become their leader; he's kind of become the face of the franchise. A lot of that is because of his character and the person he is."

But right now, Scherzer is The Show-stealer. He's scheduled to start again Saturday at home against the Texas Rangers.

Another shot at 14-0. Another shot at history.

"It's fun to watch," Jamieson said, "but I don't want to say too much.

"I don't want to screw it up."



(Stats through games of July 9)

MAX SCHERZER (Detroit Tigers) --- Season: 13-0, 3.06 ERA; Career: 65-42, 3.77
AARON CROW (Kansas City Royals) --- Season: 6-3, one save, 3.25 ERA; Career: 13-8, three saves, 3.15.
NICK TEPESCH (Texas Rangers, currently on DL) --- Season/Career: 4-6, 4.85 ERA.
KYLE GIBSON (Minnesota Twins) --- Season/Career: 1-2, 7.27 ERA.
IAN KINSLER: (Texas Rangers) --- Season: .291, 8 HR, 13 2B, 35 RBI. Career: .273, 151 HR, 231 2B, 502 RBI.