Tigers set AL record with season-opening 24-inning scoreless streak (updated)
The Tigers lost Max Scherzer to free agency, Rick Porcello to a trade and Justin Verlander to the disabled list. It took them three games to surrender a run.
After consecutive shutouts of the Twins, the Tigers nearly became the second team in modern Major League history to toss three straight to open a season. Instead, they had to settle for an American League-record 24-inning scoreless streak to begin the year.
“It’s impressive,” catcher Alex Avila said, “but I don’t know how to explain it. We pitched good. But it’s not something I’m celebrating or anything like that. It’s just a result. Gave up a run, try to do another one.”
Shane Greene, making his Tigers debut, tried to follow the pace David Price and Anibal Sanchez set the previous two afternoons. For six innings, Greene did, allowing just three singles and no runners in scoring position.
Once Greene ended the fifth inning by getting Kurt Suzuki to hit into a double play, Detroit eclipsed the previous AL mark of 22 scoreless innings from the White Sox to open the 1947 season. Greene retired the Twins in order in the sixth inning to push the streak to third-longest in Major League history.
Not only had the Twins not scored on the season, they hadn’t even advanced a runner to third base. Joe Mauer’s leadoff walk in the seventh gave Minnesota its opportunity, and the Twins converted when Kennys Vargas lined a single into left field. Yoenis Cespedes, who reached over the left-field fence to rob a home run on Opening Day, mishandled the ball for an error, allowing Mauer to round third base and score easily.
That kept the 1963 Cardinals as the only team in modern history with three straight shutouts to start a season, on complete games from Ernie Broglio, Ray Washburn and Curt Simmons. They also hold the Major League mark of 32 scoreless innings to begin a season, followed by the 1943 Reds at 26.
The Tigers’ streak was also the longest for the franchise at any point in a season since June 20-23, 1996. That team finished with a 6.38 team ERA, but took advantage of complete-game shutouts by Felipe Lira and Brian Williams — also against the Twins in Detroit, in that case at Tiger Stadium.
“I don’t think we’re going to go streaks of three games giving up one run very often,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “But we’ll take it.”
UPDATE: Since folks were asking, the Tigers joined the ’63 Cardinals and ’43 Reds as the only teams to not give up an earned run in their first three games of the season. Again, the Cardinals’ 32-inning streak is the standard. The ’43 Reds, who gave up a pair of unearned runs in their third game of the season and lost, went 31 innings into their season before surrendering an earned run.