Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit
By STEVE KORNACKI  |  Last updated 10/8/13
DETROIT For one night, Max Scherzer, the only 20-game winner in the majors, was coming out of the bullpen to save the day. And he did so in a very unconventional, Todd Jones-like manner. Ernie Harwell nicknamed the Detroit Tigers closer from the 2006 World Series team Rollercoaster Jones, and Scherzer made Jones seem like an easy ride to the final out. Scherzer got out of a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the eighth inning that made him the winning pitcher in Tuesday nights 8-6 win over the Oakland As. The comeback victory forced a deciding Game 5 in the ALDS on Thursday night in Oakland. It was surreal to be able to get an out in that situation and keep the one-run lead with the bases loaded, no outs in the eighth inning, Scherzer said. Thats the stuff you dream of. "Maybe its not the ninth inning, but thats the stuff you dream about pitching bases loaded, eighth inning, no outs. And I was able to do it. Scherzer came in for starter Doug Fister in the seventh inning with the score tied, and gave up the go-ahead run. But after Victor Martinez hit a solo homer that umpires reviewed for fan interference and Austin Jackson put the Tigers ahead with a broken-bat single, Scherzer was in position for what pitchers term a vulture win. It was his first relief appearance since giving up one run in 1 13 innings in Game 5 of the 2011 ALDS against the New York Yankees, and he struggled again this time. Scherzer walked leadoff hitter Brandon Moss before Yoenis Cespedes doubled to start the eighth. He was ordered to intentionally walk Seth Smith, loading the bases with nobody out. Pitching coach Jeff Jones came to the mound for a brief confab, hoping to say something to stem the tide. However, Scherzer quickly fell behind left-handed hitter Josh Redick, 3-1. The tying run was one pitch off the corner away from scoring, but Reddick fouled off the next pitch to make it a full count. Then he fouled off another. Scherzer had thrown him nothing but fastballs, but got him to chase a low, inside changeup for strike three. His changeups a little unpredictable, catcher Alex Avila said. Theres a lot of movement sometimes away from a left-handers and sometimes in on left-handers. You feel like a hockey goalie in there. Avila caught it, though, and Reddick walked away. I was wild tonight, Scherzer said. I didnt have my best command, but when it counted in full counts, I was able to execute some pitches. And thats what allowed me to be successful. Scherzer then struck out Stephen Vogt on a 98 mph fastball. There were two down, and the sellout crowd going crazy, waving their white towels in circles. Alberto Callaspo, a pesky switch-hitter was called on to pinch-hit for Eric Sogard, battled to another full count. This was not going to come easily. Callaspo rapped a soft liner to center and a hush fell over the crowd. But the ball hung and Jackson was able to make a good running catch. Scherzer thrust his fist in joy and sprinted to the dugout, where he unleashed unbridled joy and pounded the hands and fists of his teammates. Hes giving high-fives and leaving some bruises, Tigers radio play-by-play announcer Dan Dickerson shouted over the roar of the crowd. Avila said, Ive given him the nickname Mad Max, but that was a different level than Ive ever seen him at. Scherzer had done more than dodge a bullet. He dodged a locked and loaded shotgun with nary a flesh wound. To be able to get out of that jam ... I mean, thats something Ill never forget, Scherzer said. Thats something Im not really asked to do, and tonight I was. Obviously, skip (Jim Leyland) had the confidence in me to stick with me. I knew the lefties coming up, he might go to (left-hander) Drew Smyly. For me, to be able to get those left-handed hitters out in that situation thats something Ill never forget. It was his second win of the ALDS after leading the majors in wins during a 21-3 season. I think all Tigers fans and Tigers players would have rather it be three up, three down, Tigers Game 5 starter Justin Verlander said. But it made for a great story, didnt it? Pretty intense.
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