Scherzer earns rare Midsummer Classic win
Righty is first Tigers pitcher since 1957 to get All-Star Game victory
MINNEAPOLIS -- Considering Max Scherzer kept calling his regular-season wins an overrated stat last year, it probably shouldn't be a surprise that he wasn't making a big deal about earning the victory in the 2014 All-Star Game. He doesn't consider it a measure of how he pitches.
In Tuesday's case, he was the right pitcher at the right time, pitching a scoreless fifth inning just before the American League pulled ahead for good en route to a 5-3 victory.
It's still a pretty historic win, just the fourth by a Tiger in an All-Star Game, and the first since Jim Bunning in 1957.
When Scherzer earned the start last year in his All-Star debut, he could treat it like a regular outing, even though he knew he'd only get an inning. This year's event was a relief appearance, something he had only done in a Tigers uniform in the postseason.
The man who won a Cy Young Award with the mentality that his last 15 pitches of a game are his biggest had to act like he might only get 15 for the night. He ended up throwing 18, and with a couple of exceptions, they were nasty.
"It's weird coming out of the 'pen," he said. "First inning, I usually try to get a feel and start working off of that. Coming out of the 'pen, I just let it go, let it eat."
He didn't let up with his other pitches either. He threw a slider to get Andrew McCutchen to ground out leading off the fifth, benefiting from Miguel Cabrera's jumping grab and tag off the bag to turn Josh Donaldson's high throw into an out.
He then made Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig look powerless, using 97 mph fastballs to run the count full and set up a slider that dove off the plate as Puig swung and missed.
He paid for falling behind Troy Tulowitzki, who went with a tailing fastball and sent it to right field for a double that extended the inning. Scherzer salvaged the inning, though, by overpowering Paul Goldschmidt on three fastballs that drew three swings, the last two of them misses.
"It's making pitches against really good hitters," Scherzer said. "You have to believe that you're better than them. I have the utmost respect for all the players in the NL, but at the end of the day, when you're on the mound, you have to believe that your stuff's better and attack them.
"I fell behind a couple times tonight, but I still challenged them with fastballs and was able to avoid damage, made pitches when I needed to as well. It was a great outing for me."
It was also the end to the working part of his All-Star break. While most All-Stars prepared to head elsewhere for a couple of days, either back to their home cities or to their offseason homes, Scherzer planned on staying in town an extra day. He has spent his share of off-days in Minneapolis as part of Tigers road trips, but he planned on doing some exploring and relaxing before returning to Detroit to start the second half this weekend.
"Not sure what I'm going to do," he said.