Scherzer improves to 7-0 with 6-1 win over Twins
MAY 26, 2013 4:00p ET
The Detroit Tigers have another option.
Justin Verlander has gone 1-2 with an 11.37 ERA in his last three starts, but the Tigers have been able to turn to their ace in the hole -- Max Scherzer.
While Verlander has struggled, Scherzer has put together two outstanding outings in a row. After retiring the last 22 batters in Tuesday's win at Cleveland, he kept it up Sunday against the Twins.
Scherzer's consecutive-out streak ended at 25, two short of a multi-outing "perfect game", and he went 38 batters without allowing a hit before Chris Parmalee's single in the fifth inning.
An elevated pitch count and a big lead limited his outing to six innings, but that was more than enough to help Detroit to a 6-1 win.
"Obviously, it starts with fastball location," Scherzer said. "I thought my changeup was good today, but I've been able to keep teams off-balance with my curveball, and that has been a big key for me."
In the starts against the Indians and Twins, Scherzer gave up two runs on five hits in 14 innings. He's struck out 13 and walked just four.
"That's just something where I've really gotten into a groove," he said.
Scherzer didn't just start pitching well this week, though. He's now the first Tigers pitcher to win his first seven decisions since Jeremy Bonderman went 8-0 in 2007.
Scherzer's ERA (3.42) is a little higher than he would like, but he knows the wins mean he's doing his job.
"If I were 0-7 but pitching well and giving the chance a team to win, I'd still be proud of that," he said. "For me, it is all about going out there and making sure that I'm pitching deep into games and keeping their offense down.
"For the most part, I've been doing that this year."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland thinks that two things have helped Scherzer become even better than he's been in the past two years -- he's been able to avoid mechanical problems and has added a new pitch.
"When he can consistently stay in this arm slot, he's nasty," Leyland said. "He's added that curveball this year. It is still just a show-me pitch, but it gives him another weapon."
Detroit only led 2-1 after five innings, but broke it open with four runs in the sixth. One of the key hits came from Detroit's worst hitter this season, and the other came from someone that Leyland wishes wasn't here.
With two on and two out, Alex Avila came to the plate, mired in a 1-for-27 slump. He took a Mike Pelfrey sinker for strike one, then took a weak swing at another sinker that was inside.
Not surprisingly, that resulted in a pop-up, but the ball drifted into shallow left field and fell just between three Minnesota defenders for an RBI single.
"I threw him a great pitch -- the only thing a hitter can do with that pitch is pop it up the other way," Pelfrey said. "He did and it fell it. There's nothing I can do about that but tip my cap to the guy."
Former Tiger Casey Fien came out of the bullpen and walked Omar Infante to load the bases, and Ron Gardenhire made his next move, bringing in lefty reliever Caleb Thielbar to face Don Kelly.
Leyland answered with a switch of his own, replacing Kelly with rookie Avisail Garcia, who laced a hanging curveball to deep center field for a three-run triple.
The Tigers would love to have Garcia and Nick Castellanos spending the season in Triple-A for their expected 2014 debuts, but an injury to Austin Jackson changed the plans.
"We would prefer to have him in Toledo getting 500 at-bats because he's such a great prospect," Leyland said. "He's got a lot of talent, but he needs to play every day."
For the moment, though, Garcia is in Detroit, and on Sunday, that was a very good thing.