By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – Max Scherzer will not recycle the game plan that helped him strike out 13 and allow just two hits over 7 innings in Game 2 of the ALCS when he returns to the mound for Game 6 on Saturday.
If Scherzer could replicate that Game 2 performance, it would be ideal, but the All-Star Game starter knows he likely cannot repeat that impressive result if he pitches the Boston lineup the same way he did Sunday.
“It changes because they’re familiar with what I did,” Scherzer said. “They’re going to be looking through the film and watching what I did, the sequences, patterns, when I threw off-speed pitches, when I didn’t. Obviously I’ve got to be ahead of the curve.
“I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do,” Scherzer added, “but there will be things I do differently.”
So far Scherzer has been unassailable this postseason, allowing two runs in one start and just one in his other two outings. He recorded double-digit strikeouts in two of the three. The Tigers won in two of his starts and only lost the most recent when the Detroit bullpen blew a 5-1 lead in the eighth inning.
Scherzer effectively limited the Red Sox in Game 2, but skipper Jim Leyland agrees that facing the Red Sox lineup a second time this series will be more difficult.
“Our guys remember in the Oakland series we had not seen [rookie pitcher] Sonny Gray, and he chewed us up pretty good,” Leyland said. “The second time around it was a combination of he wasn’t as good and we had seen him.
“It does make a difference if you’ve seen a guy,” Leyland continued. “It gives you a little help. It doesn’t mean if he’s really good, like you hope your pitcher will be tonight, that it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but it does help.”
The environment and measurements of Fenway Park add another wrinkle for Scherzer in his upcoming outing.
“You’ve got 38,000 fans all cheering against you,” Scherzer said. “It’s an intense atmosphere. But really, the dimensions is something that does actually come into play, just because you can feel that wall is right behind you.
“There’s no room for error,” Scherzer added. “A routine fly ball can be a double in Fenway Park, so you’ve got to make sure you always execute pitches throughout the whole game.”
The do-or-die nature of Game 6 is one factor that will not bother Scherzer. He said that as far as his emotions, the game is like any other. As always, his job is to go out and get outs.
“The expectations and pressure doesn’t mean you change,” Scherzer said. “That’s something that’s always been instilled in me, and doesn’t matter what the situation or what the game means, I’m always going to approach the game the same way.”