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Tigers 4, Pirates 3: Max Scherzer makes a statement; a 15 strike out statement

May 20, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (37) during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
May 20, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (37) during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Final - 5.20.2012 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Pittsburgh Pirates 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 1 3 6 0
Detroit Tigers 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 X 4 5 1
WP: Max Scherzer (3 - 3)
SV: Joaquin Benoit (1)
LP: Kevin Correia (1 - 5)

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Max Scherzer's career high 15 strike outs (MLB video of all 15 can be seen here) and Alex Avila's 7th inning 2 RBI single led the Detroit Tigers to a come from behind win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3.

Scherzer was as good as I've ever seen him. His mid-game stretch of 5 straight strike outs, along with 7 of 8 and 12 of 18, was, for lack of a better term, awe inspiring. Scherzer's15 strike outs were a Comerica Park record, tied the team record for a right handed pitcher (shared with Paul Foytack in 1956) and the most by a Tigers pitcher since Mickey Lolich in October 1972. That it took 40 years for a Tigers' starter to equal Lolich says just how electric Scherzer's stuff was against the Pirates.

If you listened to the latest Bless You Boys Podcast (if you haven't, you really should!), you heard me go ballistic over commenters who wanted to send Scherzer (and Rick Porcello) to either the bullpen or Toledo. I called the statements out for what they were, knee jerk dumb. Today's performance was an even better rebuttal than my yelling like a madman into a microphone.

Is Max Scherzer the most frustrating pitcher in baseball? Quite possibly. Just look back to his last start, a beyond frustrating 4 inning, 6 run no-decision. But it's so frustrating because we know what Scherzer is quite capable of doing. When he's in sync, Scherzer can be Justin Verlander-esque on the mound. Not even the Great Verlander has had a 15 strike out game.

Yes, Scherzer did make a couple of mistakes, giving up a pair of solo home runs in his 7 innings of work. So what? A quality start is a quality start. Overall, this was the best game Scherzer's career. And it would have been a baseball travesty if Scherzer had nothing to show for his dominance, which is what nearly happened. Thank goodness the Tigers' bats woke up just in time.

The Tigers' offense remains a work in progress. Or maybe it's more correct to call the offense a piece of work. But there were enough late game heroics from Prince Fielder, Jhonny Peralta, Delmon Youing and Avila to pull out the win, and more importantly, the series.

The victory gave the Tigers their first series win since taking 2 of 3 from the Chicago White Sox 2 weeks ago. The Tigers still haven't strung together consecutive wins in more than a month, and the offense is still sputtering along like a V-8 running on 6 cylinders, but I'll take a series victory every time. You have to walk before you can run, and win 1 game before you win 2 in a row. Still, frustration reigns with this under-achieving team...though Scherzer did his part to to try and ease it.

Coming off a 9 game west coast trip, the schedule makers did the Tigers no favors. With the short home stand over, the Tigers head back on the road for a 10 game stretch; 3 each with the 1st place Indians and last place Twins, and 4 game series next weekend with the under .500 Red Sox. To be honest, after playing 19 of 24 on the road, if the Tigers manage to end May at .500 and within a few games of 1st place, I'll be happy. Let's make it to June, hopefully with a non-dysfunctional Tigers offense, and see what happens


Max Scherzer: A stretch of 7 K in 8 batters. 15 K in 7 innings. Only 2 runs allowed. I think that deserves a roar. 7 IP, 4 H 2 ER, 1 BB, 15 K.

Delmon Young: Had the game tying hit in the 7th, his only hit of the day. But Young stung the ball all series long, going 5-11, with several hard outs. 1-3, R, RBI.

Alex Avila: Has struggled all season ling with RISP. Let's hope his game winning 2 RBI single wakes his long sleeping bat. 1-3, 2RBI.


Jhonny Peralta: His 2nd home run of the season woke the offense from a game long slumber. 1-1, HR, 2 R, BB.


Don Kelly: Uh, Jim? Mr. Leyland? You listening? DON KELLY SHOULD NEVER LEAD OFF. NEVER, EVER. 0-4.

Ryan Raburn: Another game, another 0 for, another hiss. Your getting an automatic hiss is getting old, Ryan. I'm begging you, please start hitting! 0-3, K.

Octavio Dotel: Thanks to his booting an Andrew McCutchen ground ball, Dotel had to bailed out by Phil Coke.


Prince Fielder narrowly beat Brayan Villerreal, 49% to 44%