Originally written June 11, 2013 on Fox Sports Detroit:
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Max Scherzer has always had incredible talent, but now he's using it to achieve things even Justin Verlander hasn't accomplished. By holding the Kansas City Royals to two runs on three hits while walking two and striking out six in seven innings, Scherzer led the Detroit Tigers to a 3-2 victory and snapped the Royals' six-game winning streak. Both of Scherzer's walks came in the first inning, prompting a visit from pitching coach Jeff Jones. "I think he was not really smooth real early and then Jonesy got to him, talked to him, reminded him of a couple things and Max has done very good at making adjustments on the fly," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told FOX Sports Detroit's Trevor Thompson. "That's one of the things he's really improved at and he went on to pitch a great game." Scherzer improved to 9-0, the longest winning streak by a Tigers pitcher to open the season since Vern Kennedy in 1938. George Uhle also accomplished that in 1929. Scherzer did not win his ninth game until July 19 last season. Although Scherzer had some family members in town that witnessed his entry into the Tigers' record books, Scherzer himself wasn't quite jumping up and down about it. "Don't get me wrong, I love being 9-0 but it's more important that we won," Scherzer said. "For me, it's all about going out there and pitching deep in the game and being effective. If we scored in the ninth, I don't get the win. So it's kind of fluky how sometimes that stat can relate to pitching, so for me, the way I look at success is how well I pitch." Scherzer has pitched very well all season. He has gone seven or eight innings in eight of his last nine starts and has allowed just 28 hits in 59 innings. For a while it seemed as though Scherzer might suffer the same fate that Doug Fister has had in his last several starts -- pitch well enough to win but lose. It wasn't like the Tigers were smacking Royals starter Wade Davis around. They managed to scratch across one run in the second on Don Kelly's RBI single and another in the fifth on Andy Dirks' RBI groundout. The winning run came in the eighth when Victor Martinez hit a sacrifice fly off of reliever Aaron Crow to score Miguel Cabrera. "Max has been locked in," Prince Fielder told Thompson. "Very happy for him, he's having an excellent year. I"m just glad we're able to get enough runs for him to get the win." Said Matt Tuiasosopo: "He's outstanding. He's got nasty stuff and every time he's out there, it's like he impresses us even more. It's just fun to watch." Of course, there had to be controversy and it had to involve closer Jose Valverde. With nobody out and a runner on second in the ninth, Billy Butler was called out on strikes on a pitch that appeared inside. Needless to say, Butler did not agree with the call and was eventually ejected for arguing from the dugout. "I didn't think it was close when it got called, I went and looked at it on video and it was even more in than I thought it was," Butler said on the postgame show. "He told me it was on the plate. "In that situation, I just don't think that can happen. First and second, no outs, we have a pretty good chance of winning that ballgame and that happens. So I'm not saying there's anything guaranteed. Ninth inning, emotions are high, everything's on the line, had a heck of an at-bat, just trying to get hm over, trying to drive him in and then that happens. So of course you know I'm going to be pretty chapped." Valverde was happy to take the out and the save. "I was a little nervous because the other night in Baltimore, when I do the blown save for Max," Valverde told Thompson on the field after the game. "I think it's a good pitch. You have to be careful with this guy, good hitter. Other times he kill the Tigers. But today I do my job and that's why we won." That's why Scherzer is now 9-0, in the record books and a virtual lock for the All-Star Game next month.
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