Max Scherzer tossed a complete game on 106 pitches last Sunday afternoon, giving up five hits and one earned run (on a solo HR in the ninth) over nine innings, then he showered and drove to a local hospital to join his wife for the planned birth of their third child.
That may seem like an extraordinary day for the pitcher and parent. Scherzer’s take?
“Everybody is going to make a little bit more bigger deal of this,” Scherzer said. It’s not like he and his wife did anything different with their first two children. It’s all part of the life of a big league ballplayer trying to have a kid in-season. Was throwing a complete game part of the plan? No.
“It just happened,” Scherzer said, noting that it was Marlins’ hitters who helped.
“They made a lot of first-pitch outs the other day,” the three-time Cy Young winner said this week.
“That’s the only way I can throw a complete game. I get a lot of foul balls, so I’m going to need the opponent to be able put it in play to be able to get a complete game.”
Not many New York Yankees put the ball in play on Saturday afternoon in Yankee Stadium, as the righty struck out 11 of the first 17 batters he faced over the first five innings, six in a row at one point, and gave up just two hits, one a homer by catcher Kyle Higashioka on a hanging 1-2 slider Scherzer left up over the middle of the plate in the third.
Max Scherzer, Nasty 87mph Slider.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 8, 2021
11th K thru 5. pic.twitter.com/FUCmY2eR4O
Scherzer retired 14 of 15 after the home run, but that streak ended on a leadoff walk in the top of the eighth. Scherzer got the first out of the inning, but was replaced at that point in what ended up a 4-3 loss in extra innings.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 14 Ks, 1 HR, 109 P, 69 S, 3/4 GO/FO.
With his second strikeout of the game, Scherzer passed Mickey Lolich on the all-time strikeout leaderboard, taking over the 20th spot on the list.
He reached 10+ Ks for the 100th time in his career in the fourth, added another in the fifth, and finished his outing at 109 pitches with one out in the eighth and 14 Ks from 25 batters faced on the day.
Daniel Hudson finished off the eighth, but Brad Hand blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth, and a 3-2 lead in the tenth before Tanner Rainey walked two in the eleventh, loading the bases with a runner on when the inning started, and gave up a weak roller to third that brought in a run for the walk-off win.
Scherzer didn’t talk about the bullpen issues after the game, instead focusing on the pitch he left up for Higashioka in the third.
Max Scherzer, 95mph Fastball (called strike) and 87mph Changeup (swinging K), Overlay. pic.twitter.com/nC81EoJAFS— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 8, 2021
“You always want to win. It never feels good to lose even when the team loses, you’re a part of the team and you always think about what you could do better,” Scherzer explained.
“For me, I left a hanging slider. To me that’s the difference in the game.
“If I can execute that pitch better maybe we win the game, so any time you lose you always — I think everybody reflects upon themselves on what you could do better, because it always comes down to little things, the difference between winning and losing, so you always have to be accountable for the mistakes you make.”
Scherzer finished the day with 22 swinging strikes (nine with his fastball), and a total of 23 called strikes (14 with his fastball), which averaged 94 MPH and got up to 95.8.
“Just got in a good rhythm with [catcher] Alex [Avila],” he said when asked to assess his start overall.” Just being able to execute any pitch, any time. Had a good slider, good changeup today, was able to really kind of feature those two pitches and find ways to be able to use a curveball and cutter in certain situations and just keep the mix on, keep them guessing, keep throwing any pitch, any time, and just stay on the attack. I only had one walk today, there in the eighth, but when you’re able to keep the free passes off the board that usually means you’re attacking the zone. So, that’s what I take a lot of pride in and was able to execute that today.”
Max Scherzer, Painted 95mph Fastball. ️ pic.twitter.com/nwkuiA9Oro— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 8, 2021
“Max, he was just attacking the strike zone with all his pitches,” manager Davey Martinez said after the loss.
“He was working ahead a lot, his slider was really effective, but his fastball was really good.”
Getting the secondary stuff working, Scherzer said, makes the fastball play up.
“That’s the way I kind of think,” Scherzer said. “I want to have as many offspeed pitches working. I really want to have four offspeed pitches working, so that way I can sequence them in any which way I put them together, any which way because when you can do that that just makes every pitch better. It makes your fastball better, it makes every pitch that much better when you can attack the zone and throw strikes with any pitch.
“It makes it a lot more fun to prepare, come up with a scouting report and then execute it, and then I know for Alex it makes it fun to be in the game calling pitches, and then in-between innings we can check over what we’re doing, like, ‘Hey, this is why I’m shaking to this pitch,’ and then also hear his opinion certain times today of, ‘Hey, this is why I’m calling this pitch.’ And, ‘this is what I’m seeing,’ so we had a real good feel for what was going on today and that’s why I have a lot of trust in Alex.”