Saying Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer had a tough week is probably an understatement.
But in a remarkable display of flat-out toughness, Scherzer went out Thursday night and pitched another spectacular game for the second time since his brother Alex died late last week.
“Today, I’m in a better emotional spot than I was five days ago,” Scherzer said. “I’ve had a chance to grieve with my family. I’m emotionally stronger at this point in time, to the point where obviously I’m not over what happened, but I’m able to go out there and compete in the game and think about winning a ballgame.”
Scherzer ended up going 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7 in the Tigers’ 5-2 win over the Rays in the four game series opener from Tropicana. Scherzer earned his seventh win of the season and took over the AL lead in strikeouts with 114 surpassing teammate Justin Verlander.
“I really wasn’t hitting my spots the way I typically want to,” Scherzer said. “I thought I made some big 3-2 pitches throughout the game to keep from having a walk, and getting an outing in that situation. I know I can hit my spots better, but to have good results is a good thing.”
The Tigers offense was also in top gear tonight as they knocked around James Shields for 4 runs on 14 hits. Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera accounted for half of the 14 hits including Jackson’s triple in the 8th and Cabrera’s solo home run in the ninth. Cabrera finished his night going 4 for 5 with 2 RBIs.
Relievers Phil Coke and Joaquin Benoit got the Tigers through the seventh and eighth innings while Jose Valverde pitched the ninth to earn his 14th save in 17 opportunities.