CLEVELAND -- Has the light bulb finally clicked on for Max Scherzer?
The right-hander spun his second consecutive sharp outing on Wednesday, when he beat the Indians with a seven-inning, two-run performance. It was the second straight game in which he yielded just three hits in seven frames. In his last eight outings -- seven of which have been quality starts -- he is 5-1 with a 2.77 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 52 innings.
"Max has started to figure some things out and correct some things in flight," manager Jim Leyland said. "I think that's helped him. I think he's a little more mature now."
Scherzer's eight strikeouts in Wednesday's 5-3 triumph increased his season total to 142, which, entering Thursday's action, placed him in a tie for third in all of baseball with teammate Justin Verlander.
Leyland attributes Scherzer's ability to miss bats to his lively fastball. Scherzer is averaging 94 mph on his heater, again tied with Verlander, this time for fifth among Major League starters, according to Fangraphs.
"He's got strikeout stuff," Leyland said. "He's got three pitches. His slider is getting more consistent, he has a good changeup and a really live fastball."
Leyland said that Scherzer, who turns 28 on Friday, has reached the point where he can submit a decent outing even when not at his sharpest, the sign of a mature hurler.
"There's a lot to that old saying that the good pitchers know how to win when they don't have their good stuff," Leyland said. "He had good stuff last night, I'm just using this as an example -- the guys that know how to get through a game or keep you in a game when they don't have their good stuff."