Monday, October 29, 2012

Max Scherzer in the World Series: Grace & Courage

Max Scherzer
Detroit Free Press
Max Scherzer gave Tigers chance to win Game 4 (Detroit Free Press)
It was the fastball that deserted Max Scherzer on the final night of his breakthrough 2012 season.

The command and late explosion weren’t quite there, and neither was the victory Scherzer needed to help his Detroit Tigers avoid a World Series sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants.

“Honestly, I don’t know why,” Scherzer said after Sunday’s 4-3 loss in Game 4 at Comerica Park. “My arm felt good, I just didn’t have my best fastball.

“I pitched well. I pitched good. But I didn’t pitch my best, and that’s what burns.”
Tigers' Max Scherzer copes with heartache, arm-ache (Detroit News)
They don't have a Guttiest Tigers Award.

But if they want to throw some kind of trophy together, woven from barbed wire and rose thorns, they should give it to Max Scherzer, who started for the Tigers in Sunday's World Series grand finale at Comerica Park, and who pitched more than sturdily (6.1 innings, seven hits, three runs, eight strikeouts) in the Giants' 4-3 victory that won for San Francisco a world championship.

Scherzer's answer to anguish and to strife during the 2012 season was to meet it with grace and courage. On the mound, in the clubhouse, in his conversations, in any facet of his life, a 28-year-old right-hander excelled even as he dealt with heartache.
Grading the Tigers: Detroit's offense improved, but far from satisfactory in Game 4 loss to Giants (mlive.com)
Working on nine days' rest, Scherzer's velocity wasn't up to full speed Sunday as his fastball could break out of the low 90s. A cause for concern? Maybe. But he'll have the offseason to rest a strain near his right shoulder that has plagued him the past month.

Rarely did his fastball crack 92 mph Sunday, which hurt him in the second when Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt belted back-to-back extra-base hits to score the game's first run. Still, he gave a gritty performance with temperatures falling below 40 degrees.
Tigers learn tough lesson from sweep (Fox Sports)
“Everybody in baseball knows that’s what you have to do,” Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer said. “It’s a three-phase game — pitching, offense and defense. You go back and look at all the World Series winners, they all do that. I don’t think that’s a lesson we learned. I think that’s a fact within baseball.”

Well, if it’s a fact, then it’s a fact that the Tigers at least partly ignored. The team still had a hugely successful season, winning the AL Central, beating the Athletics and Yankees in the playoffs, reaching the World Series. But let the Tigers’ final memory of 2012 serve as a springboard to a better future.

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