By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Normally allowing one hit through six innings is not grounds for a pitcher’s removal from the game.
Then again, it is not every day a team has the luxury of a 10-0 lead going into the seventh inning.
Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer gets the best run support of any pitcher in Major League Baseball, but Saturday he received even more than his 7.32 average over just the first two innings.
“You are more relaxed, but you can’t let that breed complacency,” Scherzer said. “Those hitters will get you in a heartbeat, and so you’ve got to be on the attack and pitch your normal game. And you can’t get deterred of what the score of the game is. You always have to be on the attack and pitch the right off-speed pitches, and I thought I was able to do that tonight.”
“I was working ahead in the count,” Scherzer added. “I was 15 of 20 for first pitch strikes, which, that’s a great rate. I was pitching with four pitches again. I had a great feel for my change-up out of the zone. I generated some swing-and-misses when I needed to and was able to locate the fastball at times.”
While Scherzer would not go as far as to say the 5-0 and 8-0 leads he enjoyed going into the second and third innings, respectively, changed his mindset, he certainly appreciated them.
“That’s why I love being in Detroit,” Scherzer said. “With this offense, if you go out and pitch well, you have a great chance to win a ball game. Obviously I was able to pitch effectively tonight and these guys obviously came out chomping at the bit because they were able to put so many runs on the board early in the game.”
After starting the season 13-0, Scherzer is now 15-1. His 15 wins are the most of any pitcher so far this year, and his winning percentage is also the highest. His 0.92 WHIP is the third-best in baseball, but he credits the 15-1 record to his teammates as much as himself.
“It’s nice because it means the team’s winning,” Scherzer said. “This is another start where guys go out there and they score a ton of runs for me. Makes my job a heck of a lot easier, and so for me, this game’s about the rest of my teammates and less about me.”
With all that was going right for Scherzer Saturday and all that has gone right for him this season, he probably could have finished the game, but Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave him the handshake after just six innings.
Scherzer understood the decision.
“It gives me a chance to regroup,” he said. “I knew I had seven days coming up, it was a 10 to nothing game, and there really wasn’t much more to accomplish in this game tonight. We just decided, let’s just take a breather now.”