Scherzer celebrates pennant to the Max
DETROIT — You can't miss Max Scherzer in clubhouse celebrations.
Not just because the Detroit Tigers right-hander is the one with goggles with different colored eyes in homage to his own eyes — one brown and one blue, a condition called heterochromia.
But also because, while Scherzer is serious about his job — about pitching well and working out to make sure he's in shape to withstand a long season — no one has more fun when the champagne starts flying.
"Man, I have so much fun," Scherzer said Thursday amid the latest Tigers champagne party, after the Tigers swept the New York Yankees in the ALCS and advanced to the World Series.
"I'm serious in between the lines, but once it gets out of the lines, it's time to party. We worked so hard to get …"
The quote ended there because the party was on again as reliever Octavio Dotel doused the already drenched Scherzer with champagne. Fellow starter Doug Fister followed up with a bucket of warm water.
Scherzer, 28, had every reason to party. He helped the Tigers reach the World Series with an 8-1 Game 4 victory.
The hard-throwing righty used all of his pitches to near perfection Thursday, allowing just one run on two hits while walking two and striking out 10 in 5 2/3 innings.
Scherzer said he was able to draw from the Tigers' postseason experience last year to have more success this season.
"This year I knew, let it fly," Scherzer said. "Use the energy of the crowd to your advantage. That was my approach today. I was able to treat it like a regular-season game but with a little bit more amp to it. For me, I was able to keep it right where I needed to be. That's what allowed me to execute my pitches."
For Scherzer, it hasn't always been fun this season. In fact, he had to face one of the worst possible things anyone could face, the death of his younger brother, Alex, on June 21.
Yet Scherzer made his scheduled start just two days later in Pittsburgh, with his parents in attendance.
"I got a strong family," Scherzer said. "When that happened, you learn to enjoy the best things in life. You live to be happy. For me, baseball puts a smile on my face, baseball puts a smile on my family's faces, and to be able to go out there and have a moment like this and see them after the game, there's nothing better to be able to share experiences with your family."
After his brother's death, Scherzer went 10-3 with a 2.72 ERA in 18 starts.
"Just a competitor," catcher Gerald Laird said. "And he's a great teammate, and I'm just happy for him that everything's worked out for him. Whatever he's doing, he deserves. He works his tail off, he's always had the great stuff, and now it's all coming together for him. I couldn't be happier for a guy like that, for him."
The Tigers appreciated the way Scherzer was able to channel his grief into becoming the pitcher everyone always knew he could be.
"In life, we all have a lot of adversity and he has handled it unbelievably well," assistant general manager Al Avila said. "He's just an inspiration for a lot of people, for a lot of his teammates and basically just an inspiration to all of us, truth be told."
President and general manager Dave Dombrowski recognized what a night like Thursday meant to Scherzer and his family.
"As I look to my right, today’s winning pitcher, with his family which had an extremely difficult timen, I can’t think of a better feeling for their family and his parents," Dombrowski said.
Scherzer knows there is one more feeling that would be even better — sharing a World Series victory with his family.
Once Friday morning arrives, Scherzer said, he will be back to work preparing for that.
But for now, he had a party to be the life of, a party he intended to relish as much as he could.