Game 43: Scherzer overshadowed, not overlooked

Max Scherzer deserved more mention than he received out of Tuesday’s 5-1 Tigers win over the Indians, but some guy named Cabrera stole the show with a line-drive home run to straightaway center at Progressive Field.

He didn’t see it. He heard the swing and the crowd reaction and knew what happened. But he has seen plenty of them over the years. He knows enough about them to realize if he could hold the Indians down after their first-inning run, he had a very good chance of ending up on top.

“Their starter was throwing the ball well, keeping our hitters at bay. I just knew if I could continue to throw up zeroes, eventually we’ll get to him,” Scherzer said. “I just have confidence in our hitters like that, because they’re so good. At any point, they can strike.

“Tonight was a perfect example. Dirks hits a home run, Torii hits a double and then Miggy hits a bomb, and all of a sudden, we’re losing 1-0, now we’re up 3-1. That’s what makes us so dangerous.”

That’s what makes Scherzer’s outings so production. With eight innings of one-run ball, he’s 6-0 for the second time in three years.

It was an unusual outing for him. It’s not that he has never been on a roll like that before, but his roll of 22 consecutive outs began without a strikeout for the first 10 hitters of that stretch. In most outings, he gets into rolls like that because of the strikeout, even if it costs him pitches. Then he struck out seven of the last 12.

“I was throwing the ball well tonight. I thought Alex [Avila] and I were sequencing [pitches well],” Scherzer said. “They did hit a couple balls hard at people. That’s just baseball. Today they got caught. And the other batters, I did a good job of locating the ball in and away and changing speeds. I thought that’s what allowed me to be successful tonight.”

Scherzer tried to be less predictable, throwing back-to-back changeups when hitters might be expecting fastballs, or throwing his recently-developed curveball more often against left-handed hitters. All of his pitches were working, he felt.

He felt like he settled into a groove as soon as the leadoff hitter in the second inning, Jason Giambi, who fouled out behind third base on a 3-1 pitch.

“I felt I was able to slow the game, take a deep breath and execute that 3-1 pitch,” Scherzer said. “I felt like after that, I was able to settle down and locate my fastball. From then, I was able to execute pitches. I felt like I had all four pitches, fastball, curveball, changeup, slider. That’s what allowed me to be successful.”

For those watching, it looked like playing catch at times. For Scherzer, his groove was a thought process more than anything.

“For me, you’re just concentrating on which hitter’s up and the sequencing you need to do, what pitches you want to start him with and what pitches you want to finish him,” Scherzer said. “You’re constantly working with Alex, what his game plan is, what my game plan is, how we wanted to attack them. Tonight I felt like we did a good job of blending the two games together. There’s times I trusted him and there’s times I felt like I had the right pitch. And between the two of us, we were able to consistently throw the right pitch. When you have that type of execution, good things can happen.”

Play of the game: It would be difficult not to give that honor to Cabrera for his go-ahead two-run homer on a pitch diving down and away. Check out the game story for more.

Outs of the game: Scherzer told manager Jim Leyland he was fine to pitch the eighth, and he didn’t disappoint. Knowing it was his last inning, he combined his adrenaline with his philosophy that the last 15 pitches are the most important of the game. He then proceeded to strike out of the bottom third of the Indians lineup in order.

“I definitely had the adrenaline flowing in that situation,” Scherzer said. “With Giambi up, you know he’s a great hitter, anytime he can strike. I think I started him off with two changeups and was able to finish him with a fastball. Those types of sequencing in those type of at-bats, when you go back in that situation when you know that’s your last inning, to go back and throw as hard as you can, you try to collect outs.”

Strategy: After Torii Hunter’s ninth-inning groundout advanced Andy Dirks and Omar Infante to second and third base, respectively, Terry Francona opted to intentionally walk Cabrera and take his chances against Prince Fielder. Fielder’s single scored another vital insurance run, making it a 5-1 game. It’s the second time in four games Fielder has followed an intentional walk to Cabrera with an RBI hit.

Line of the night: Scherzer’s pitching’s line was just outanding — 8 innings, 2 hits, a run, a walk and 7 strikeouts.

Stat of the night: 28 — career home runs for Miguel Cabrera against Cleveland, most for him against any opponent.

Print it: “He’s a hard guy to get out. No matter when he’s up there, no matter what the situation is, he’s a tough guy to get out. When he grinds that at-bat out, it’s something to see.” — Jim Leyland on Cabrera


Scherzer wasn’t overlooked by me…..he was the biggest reason we won.

Although the first inning he looked off to me….they hit him hard even the outs, they made him throw a lot of pitches (a lots of pitches and wasnt hitting the strike zone) and the most significant thing to me is that he wasn’t missing any bats, they were on everything. It was looking like shades of the weekend to me. So my comment yesterday was based on what he looked like in the first inning, which wasn’t necessarily good. But he found the strike zone and straightened himself out.
Did anyone notice the Texas/ Oakland box score? It is possible to hold own that Texas offense!

Nice bounce-back win fellas. Another game when Fielder had a very important hit – wasn’t needed in the end but good to see him getting those hits after a Miggy intentional walk. Miggy is on fire and so is Dirks – good all around game for a much-needed win. Max has been amazing, he is such a composed pitcher. Go Tigers!

Max looks like a better pitcher than Justin. Movement, pitch selection, and control. Verlander is probably really mad now so he will pitch a great game. The hitters have just seen Jimenez so let’s tee off on him. Watching MLB last night and the last out for Toronto was a called third strike that was high and outside, and a delayed call. So the umpires are inconsistent in every park. I keep repeating this but I believe Andy Dirks will be a star if he stays healthy. Go Tigers!

Don’t think Dirks will be a star, but can be a very productive MLB player if healthy. A grinder, which is exactly what we need.
Scherzer’s price tag keeps going up. He (and Fister) usually have 1 rough inning. If they control the damage in that inning they are golden. Scherzer can go deeper into games than Fister though.

Most championship teams have an Andy Dirks type player on them. And he’s covered for Jackson very well, playing center and stepping in as leadoff hitter, plus he doesn’t need to be substituted against lefties.
It does appear from the comments here that Max wasn’t overshadowed by anything last night. As he came off the mound in the 7th, it appeared he was already yelling into the dugout “I’m all right” so as to avoid the handshake of doom. Little secret, I already had typed out a comment ripping Leyland for removing Max after seven, but fortunately didn’t have to hit the “post comment’ button. Thank you, Jim.

Note to Verlander: John Adams only starts beating that wretched drum if the Indians get a runner to secondbase. Don’t let that happen. Our sanity is in your hands, JV.

Good one Rich. John Adams is insanity personified. On another note, what about those Nationals?? Bottom five in MLB in runs scored. Are they going to snap out of their team slump?? We beat the Braves three straight, then lost two to the Nats. Where would they be without us!

After his run-in with the wall in Dodger Stadium, Bryce Harper last night went back on what should have been the final out in SF. He made a half assed leap about thirty feet from the wall and the ball went over his head to tie the game. He admitted the thought of the wall scared him off.
Question: doesn’t he go out there during pregame and check out his routes?

Is JV already a day off from his routine because of Monday no game? Now they are showing possible rain in Cleveland. Will that really throw him off? I think he has to develop a Plan B to prevent these bad outings.

Rich – I already hear the boom, boom, boom, boom thinking about it – I will miss part of the game so am hoping when I get home I will see us with a nice lead and JV throwing strong.

Fister. 6.4 IP/GS.Scherzer 6.0 .Verlander 6.7
CG:JV:20. Fister:5. Scherzer :0. Fister goes deeper than Scherzer and Verlander deeper than both.
Scherzer has been always a 6 innings pitcher.
His ERA is third for the team. One good outing so far.
Sanchez remains the best season. He and verlander would be unbeaten or nearly with the RS given to Scherzer and Fister

One thing on Max’s side is this year. Max has four starts of eight innings. Anibal and Doug once each. JV’s longest outing seven innings. Which really is okay. We need to reduce his pitch counts any way possible. Through nine starts, Max is our innings eater among the starters. We have had four two game losing streaks this month and in order: Scherzer, Sanchez, Porcello, and Scherzer have stopped them. This is one deep, talented starting staff.

Interesting observation and stats. Kinda tells me the club subliminally lets down when they have certain guys on the mound. Like they are letting somebody else take care of business!

CLE aside, this is a HUGE game for justin. He’s gotta turn the page tonight!

Dan & Jim (radio) said last night that Cleveland was toning down Chief Wahoo and featuring the letter “I” now. Since I havn’t watched a Cleveland game this year, are they still pounding the drum?

yes’m they are!

I assume the issue with Chief Wahoo is racism – so Cleveland could simply replace the feather with a turban and get a whole different group of people mad at them. Atlanta merely has to drop the s after all we are the home of the brave; and the Washington football team can keep its nickname by replacing the figure on their helmets with a small reddish potato.

fine, as long as they drop with the “dancing savage”

Funny thing about the Braves name; it stems not from Native Americans but from Tammany Hall. Those pols called themselves braves. If you care about 19th century stuff.
I’ve lobbied for the potato on the Washington helmets for years.

My first husband was Chippewa.

I’m part Cherokee and I once had a Chippewa girlfriend. That made for some jokes at work.

Cherry & Chip:-)

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