Scherzer struck out 14 in 5 2-3 shutout innings hours after he was recalled from Triple-A Toledo, helping the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics 10-2 on Sunday to end a four-game losing streak.
Scherzer allowed two hits, walked four and hit a batter in his first game since he was sent down following a rough opening stretch of the season. He was only called back up because Armando Galarraga(notes), Sunday’s scheduled starter, pitched in relief on Friday and wasn’t available.
The right-hander fell just two strikeouts short of Mickey Lolich’s team record despite being taken out in the sixth inning.
“I don’t want to get crazy and carried away, because this was one outing, but obviously that was pretty impressive,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I think he was hungry to get back here, and it shows. Sending a guy down isn’t punishment, it is hopefully to get results like this.”
Scherzer was acquired from Arizona over the winter and went 1-4 with a 7.29 ERA in his first eight starts with the Tigers. He fixed a mechanical flaw and gave up one run in 15 innings over two starts with the Mud Hens.
“My arm was wrapping too much around my body—it’s very complex, but I needed to shorten my arm action,” he said. “That’s what I did, and all of a sudden, my fastball had that zip again.”
Miguel Cabrera(notes) had four hits, including his 14th homer, and four RBIs for the Tigers, who finished with 15 hits. Carlos Guillen(notes) and Brandon Inge(notes) also connected, and Joel Zumaya(notes) pitched two scoreless innings for his first save.
“They got the leadoff hitter on in every inning and scored in all but one of them,” Braden said. “I’m not a math major, but that doesn’t seem good for me. Plus we were going against a team that had just woke up Cy Young and brought him to the park. He didn’t give us a chance, and I didn’t give us a chance.”
Detroit scored single runs in the first four innings and five of the first six. Cabrera doubled in a run in the third and hit a three-run shot in the Tigers’ five-run eighth.
Scherzer (2-4) struck out seven in the first three innings. Jack Cust(notes) got Oakland’s first hit in the fourth—a one-out double that just eluded left fielder Ryan Raburn(notes)—but Scherzer threw a called third strike past Mark Ellis(notes) and got Gabe Gross(notes) swinging to end the threat.
“I could tell from the first inning from his velocity and the life on his fastball that he was going to have a good game,” Tigers catcher Gerald Laird(notes) said. “He knew he had to go down there and get some things right, and he knew he was going to have a chance to come up here again and show what he can do. He got a lot of swings and misses, and that tells you what kind of stuff he had.”
Scherzer struck out the first two batters of the sixth, then narrowly missed on a 3-2 pitch to Cust. He then hit Ellis with his 113th pitch and was removed by manager Jim Leyland. The crowd of 32,510 saluted Scherzer’s effort with a standing ovation.
“That meant a lot,” Scherzer said. “These are some of the best fans in baseball, so for them to give me that kind of support—it tickles me to death.”
“There’s not a lot you can do with Cabrera,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “Dallas had him swinging with one hand off the bat, and he still hit it for a double. Vin threw him a good pitch and Cabrera got under it, and he still hit it out. He’s so good and so strong that even his mistakes are trouble.”
NOTES: Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram threw out the first pitch with a professional-looking delivery off the pitching rubber. His fastball, though, was high and outside. … Scherzer struck out all nine Oakland starters at least once. … Lolich struck out 16 batters twice in 1969. … Braden, who pitched a perfect game on May 9, said he didn’t feel he was a good enough pitcher to call Roy Halladay(notes) when he joined the club on Saturday night. “If there is a protocol that says I should call him, I’d love to, just to have a chance to talk to the man,” he said. “But I don’t think there’s anything a guy like me can say to congratulate a star of his level.”