Scherzer inconsistent in 7-4 loss to Mariners

DETROIT — Max Scherzer knows how good it feels when he’s got everything going right.

He’s not even close to that feeling right now.

Scherzer
allowed five runs on 10 hits Tuesday as the Tigers lost 7-4 to the
Seattle Mariners. He struck out six but walked two and needed 103
pitches to get through five innings.

“His stuff was unbelievable,
but he couldn’t control it,” Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. “When you
fall behind all of the time, you have to come into the zone on hitters’
counts, and that’s when you give up hits and runs.”

The problem is
nothing new for Scherzer, who has been a model of inconsistency
throughout his Tigers career. In 2010 he struggled badly enough to get
demoted to Toledo, then returned to go 11-7 with a 2.46 ERA in his last
23 starts.

This season he’s 1-2 with an 8.24 ERA, and he doesn’t think the solution is as simple as it was in 2010.

“That
time, it was 100 percent mechanics, so I knew exactly what I had to
do,” said Scherzer, who has said that problem was solved before he even
got to Toledo. “It isn’t the same this time. Right now, I’m getting
behind too many hitters — too many 1-0 and 2-0 counts. You can’t pitch
in the major leagues if you don’t get ahead in the count.”

Scherzer
has been unlucky this year — on Tuesday the Mariners found every hole
that they couldn’t find in Saturday’s perfect-game loss to Philip Humber
— and he takes some comfort from that.

“They got some grounders
between guys and some bloopers, so I’m not going to beat myself up too
badly over that,” he said. “I’m more upset about the walks. When you
walk guys, especially leading off the inning, you are just setting
yourself up for a disaster.”

Tigers manager Jim Leyland has ridden
this roller-coaster with Scherzer before, but with Doug Fister on the
sidelines, he wants to get it fixed as quickly as possible.

“He’s
just not in a groove,” Leyland said. “The command isn’t consistent, and
he needs to fix that. Some guys have more trouble repeating their
deliveries than other guys, and he may be one of them.”

Of course,
Scherzer isn’t the only Tiger struggling. The offense was a little
better on Tuesday with Avila and Miguel Cabrera’s homers helping them
score four runs, but they still aren’t putting up the numbers everyone
expected. Prince Fielder is hitting .328, but hasn’t homered since the
second game of the season, and Cabrera is the only other regular hitting
better than .270.

“We’re not getting good combinations right
now,” Leyland said. “When you aren’t hitting, pitchers will throw gems
against you, and when we do get some runs, the pitching isn’t coming
through. Those are bad combinations. We aren’t getting the good ones.”

As usual, though, Leyland isn’t about to panic.

“There’s
nothing that needs to be fixed,” he said. “We’re 17 games into the
season, and we just need to ride this out. We’ll be fine. We’re going to
hit.”

NOTES: While the Tigers are fine at first base with Fielder
and Cabrera, Brad Eldred might force his way onto the roster in some
capacity. The 31-year-old hit three homers for Triple-A Toledo on
Tuesday, and is hitting .390 with 12 homers and 34 RBI in 20 games.
Eldred, who has played in the majors for Pittsburgh and Colorado, could
serve as a designated hitter against left-handed pitching, moving Ryan
Raburn out of the lineup. … Leyland said he plans to rest Austin
Jackson on Wednesday, starting Don Kelly in center against Seattle ace
Felix Hernandez.