Game 24: Scherzer throws Twins a curve

Max Scherzer did little to dampen his strikeout rate Monday, fanning 10 Minnesota Twins over 7 1/3 innings. Neither Justin Morneau nor Joe Mauer accounted for any of them.

That’s fine for Scherzer. More important for him, they didn’t account for any hits. You can make the case that had more of an impact on his bottom line than the strikeouts.

Alex Avila didn’t want to choose which was more important.

“Both,” he said.

Morneau and Mauer are a major reason why Scherzer had a 5.40 career ERA and a 3-2 record in nine starts against the Twins over the last three years. They were a combined 13-for-30 with four home runs and five walks.

Scherzer has been progressively better against the Twins with each season. A big reason has been his success against Minnesota’s left-handed hitters, including those two. On Monday, he had a curveball for them.

Actually, he had several of them. That, he says, was his answer. It has been largely a show-me pitch for him since last summer, but after an adjustment, it was a big pitch for him Monday.

“Honestly, it was my curveball tonight,” Scherzer said. “That’s a pitch I’ve really been working on. I knew coming that they have a lot of good left-handed hitters. In my bullpen session, [pitching coach Jeff Jones] gave me a little tip to help improve my grip so that I can be more consistent with that pitch. It worked in the pen, so over the past couple days I’ve been throwing it. I thought this was going to be a good pitch for me tonight and it was.”

The data on MLB.com Gameday does not show a curveball, only sliders for breaking balls. The pitches around 79-82 mph, he said, were curveballs. There were up to a dozen of those on the data, according to brooksbaseball.net.

“I think I threw about 10-12 curveballs, and they were pretty consistent,” Scherzer said. “I don’t think I had any strikeouts on it. I was able to throw it for a strike where it was competitive or it was just missing. So for me, that threw a whole wrinkle in there that they had to now respect for me to be able to throw that curveball. I feel like when I can do that, it gives me a third pitch for a lefty that allows my fastball and changeup to be effective.”

Play of the game: It’s not difficult to make a good case for Prince Fielder’s go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth inning, but there’s an argument that Andy Dirks’ leadoff bunt single two batters earlier was the spark that started it all. It was a reaction to third baseman Trevor Plouffe playing back, and it put a runner on for Mike Pelfrey to worry about as he pitched against Miguel Cabrera.

“It’s taking advantage of what’s given to you,” said third-base coach Tom Brookens, who handles the bunting game.

Out of the game: Scherzer stayed in for the first batter of the eighth with the top of the Twins order coming up, pitting him against Brian Dozier with his pitch count already at 108. Scherzer had to go to a full count, but struck out Dozier swinging at a 94 mph fastball on his 114th and final pitch. With nobody on for Mauer, Drew Smyly and Joaquin Benoit took it from there.

33 Comments

Solving the communication problem talking in the mound probably was the point where he got himself into the game.

I missed the game but am thrilled to see we got another W – I was out and heard a load roar and heard Prince hit a homerun. Guess those big shots are starting to show up more often. Nice job by Smyly too – what a streak we are on right now!

4/30/13. Let’s take a look at the Standings. On top in the AL Central, we see our Detroit Tigers although it’s by just one half game. Both Central races are the most balanced. So far the Boston Red Sox have the best record in baseball. Last 7/30 Boston dumped salary and now they are off to a great start with a very different team. But as we all know baseball is a long, long season and we are just getting started. Games every day except for that All-Star break event.

casper wells has landed. CHISOX.

Best of luck to him except when he plays against us!!! Viciedo is out for the Hawk Sox so he could get some PT. There is timing in life and right now we have no immediate need for Casper and he understands that.

Evan, good comment on the last post regarding the bunt by Dirks. Wish Wells had landed with the Tigers

yeah sometimes you forget about how much i like baseball players – as opposed to slugger types. I envy Rich who somehow has 2 baseball teams and yet a wife. I’m sure mine would leave me if I picked up a second team.

sometimes I forget. dang this board needs editing tools

one of those 2 baseball teams being a NL team – i would switch the tigers to a NL team in a heartbeat. again: baseball players.

Evan, the key is having the wife also be a fan of both teams. I’m very lucky.

how do you watch both? do you have a mlbTV package or do you have a “slingbox” or…

I have DirecTV Extra Innings package and MLB.TV, but no, I can’t watch them both at the same time. I usually have the Tigers on and keep an eye on the Nationals. I also never make internet comments on the Nationals. Who would have the time?

Rich, by the way.The comment I made on the last post about the timing of comments was not specifically directed to you. It was just a general opinion. I guess I was prompted by all the second guessing. I know, it is just part of the game and adds to the fun.

No, I realize it wasn’t directed to me specifically. I was planning to discuss how we could get in comments re managerial moves before the fact, as this topic has come up a number of times over the past eight years.
In my case, as an example, I would have to go from my TV room to my office where the computer is in order to make an in game comment. I still do this sometimes between innings if I’m up and walking around.
Overall, some decisions happen too fast for a comment. Let’s say the manager calls for a bunt. We don’t know he called for that until it’s already happened. All comments on the decision would be after the fact and ripe for charges of second guessing. We just have to trust that a commenter is being honest and not using hindsight when discussing the decision.
Myself, I usually agree with what Jim does so I’d spend all night commenting that I agree. Last night, I said after the fact that I’d have used Smyly for the last hitter even though Benoit successfully got the out, thus leaving myself open for second guessing.
By the way, most negative comments on Leyland come from other sites.
And we could always have a live in game Twitter discussion. Faster.

the pregame with Dickerson-Leyland was informative. Leyland pointed out that one of the weaknesses of the current pen is that he sees them all as one inning pitchers, excluding Smyly. tried to extend Alburquerque on Sunday. the decision to keep Smyly around instead of a regular turn at Toledo has paid off nicely so far.

2 extra base hits for alex avila this year. what happened to his power?

5 walks on the season. luckily 3 of those came in his past 4 games.

Worth watching. Brandon Moss talks about his 19th inning walkoff homer. Funny.

Thanx. That was good.Still pretty loose in the Bay area.

thanks for sharing Rich – that was priceless – what a long game

BTW: tigers bullpen is 6th least number of inning (74) pitched by relievers. That means our starters have been good, but unfortunately we’re dead last in ERA (4.50) and 10th in WHIP (1.32) and 3rd in walks (39). We’re 2nd in Ks (89) and have the 3rd least number of homeruns (5).

all those stats are for the bullpen, sorry if that was unclear

Yeah. The saving grace for the pen is the number of Ks and limited HRs. Good arms. Can you imagine what the ERA would be if those guys pitched to contact?

yea good point. looks like dotel and B real contributed 12 BBs in 9IP.
Conversely, Valverde hasn’t issued a walk yet, and Smyly has only thrown 4 in 17IP in relief.

al hasn’t helped either throwing 8 in 11.2IP

Evan, what can be done is simply back out the stats of Dotel and Villarreal and see how our “new seven” stack up with the league. It might be a better comparison after V and R pitch three more innings each to match what D and V pitched.

true DOK, might do that later

Looks like the Tigers will miss Strasburg next week. Lining up to be Dan Haren and Ross Detwiler unless something changes. That would be their 4 and 5.

thats bigtime. dan and jim were talking about strasburg last night during the game. dan was telling jim strasburg only had 5 Ks threw several innings, jim was shocked and suggested something isn’t right there. turns out strasburg was hurt but they didn’t know that.

The word is not really hurt and will make next start. We’ll see. You know how that goes.

well maybe he’ll decide he’s hurt after what we do to him :p

b nice to get some runs for justin today we’ve only scored 14 runs in Verlander’s five starts

get some runs and hope that blister doesnt flare up…

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