MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Max Scherzer earned his 21st win and the Detroit Tigers clinched their third straight AL Central title, beating the Minnesota Twins 1-0 on Wednesday night.
Torii Hunter’s single followed a leadoff triple by Austin Jackson in the first inning, and that was all Scherzer (21-3) and manager Jim Leyland’s Tigers needed to start the party.
Scherzer gave up two singles in seven innings. Jose Veras and Drew Smyly teamed up for the eighth and Joaquin Benoit worked the ninth for his 24th save in 25 tries.
A few dozen Tigers fans in attendance at Target Field cheered from their seats while Miguel Cabrera and his teammates mobbed Benoit in front of the mound after he struck out Josh Willingham to end the game.
The celebration picked up even more in the clubhouse, where the Tigers sprayed bubbly.
Scherzer spun one more solid start for the AL Cy Young Award voters to consider, except for the season-high six walks and 123 pitches. He struck out 10 and lowered his ERA to 2.90, ensuring he’ll finish the season with the most wins in the major leagues. Jordan Zimmermann, the next closest, has 19 for Washington.
Second-place Cleveland beat the Chicago White Sox, but the Tigers maintained their 4½-game edge. The Indians control the second AL wild-card spot.
Kevin Correia (9-13) did his best to give the Twins a chance, giving up seven hits and one run over seven innings to finish his first season with the Twins with a 4.18 ERA. He leads the team in wins, starts, innings and strikeouts.