They had their chances, none better than in the fourth inning, when Michael Young led off with a triple to the fence in left-center field to put a runner in scoring position for the heart of the Rangers order. Up came Ian Kinsler, who drove in three runs in each of the first two games of the series.
Scherzer couldn't get him to bite at a pitch on the outside corner, leaving him with a 3-0 count against an All-Star hitter who has 16 RBIs with a runner on third and less than two outs this year. A walk would've put Scherzer back to even, but it would've put a second runner on for MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero.
"I'm thinking, 'Don't worry about the run. That's going to score,'" Leyland said. "Just get that guy."
Scherzer wasn't thinking about the run at all. His mentality?
"Pitch well. Keep executing," Scherzer said. "I know Kinsler's aggressive. I know he's a good hitter, and I knew that he can execute 3-0."
Kinsler didn't go after the fastball over the plate for 3-1. He went after the next fastball at the belt, but fouled it back to run the count full.
"I was putting good fastballs on him, and he was fouling them off," Scherzer continued. "That's why I decided to go with the changeup out of the zone. If I walk him, I walk him. If not, that's my best pitch at that point. That's Gerald behind the plate knowing that situation, too. We were on the same page with that pitch."
It's one of the secondary pitches Scherzer has executed much better since returning to the Tigers six weeks ago, and it caught Kinsler swinging early for the first out.
By comparison, he needed just three pitches to retire Guerrero, but none of them fastballs. After fouling off a first-pitch changeup, he swung and missed at back-to-back sliders, the second of them darting off the plate as Guerrero tried to reach it.
"He's very aggressive and he can hit anything," Scherzer said. "He hit a bomb off me earlier this year. I know he's very good. I was able to mix it with him. It allowed me to finish with my slider and he finished it out of the zone."
With the sacrifice fly no longer in play, Scherzer escaped the jam altogether with one more pitch: a changeup that Josh Hamilton grounded to first.
"That's the first time I've ever done that, with a man on third and nobody out and strand him," Scherzer said. "I was coming off the mound with a big smile."
[Trrip note: MU alum Doug Mathis also appeared in the game, pitching a perfect 8th inning in relief for the Rangers, his first appearance since being called back up from Triple-A