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Sunday, October 2, 2011
Scherzer stymies Yankees, evens series


Max Scherzer suggested pitchers generally become conscious of no-hit bids once they complete three innings.

So Scherzer surely was aware of what he was accomplishing when he took a no-hit bid one out in to the sixth inning Sunday at Yankee Stadium, when Robinson Cano singled.

“I was aware that I had it going,” Scherzer said after the Tigers beat the Yankees, 5-3, in Game 2 to even the series at a game apiece. “But that’s the fun part of baseball and the fun part of pitching. … For me there was no pressure at all to keep it going.”

Said catcher Alex Avila: “I expected him to be good.”

Because?

“Because he’s good,” Avila continued. “I’ll be completely honest with you: 15 wins is pretty good in the American League. A lot people talk about his inconsistencies because of his stuff, like what he showed today. He’s got the potential to be doing what the elite pitchers in the league are doing. I think that’s why we always expect it. I think that’s why he always expects it himself.

“And when he has outings like this, it doesn’t surprise us. He’s a tremendously gifted pitcher. And when he’s in rhythm and throwing strikes, especially with his fastball, it’ll be pretty tough for the hitters. His fastball was anywhere from 90-98 mph today. And he’s got a really good changeup. And he’s got a good slider.”

The Tigers, clinging to a two-run lead after the Yankees scored two runs in the ninth, were poised to get the final out when Curtis Granderson sent a harmless pop-up into foul territory near the visitors’ dugout. But in the steady, cold rain, Avila slipped on the on-deck circle and the ball dropped, given Granderson a second chance.

“It’s kind of the worst time of day,” Avila said. “There’s a twilight, with the rain coming down. Initially I didn’t see it. Then I picked it up. I had a bead on it and ended up stepping on the on-deck circle and slipped. I had no chance to recover after that.”

Said Tigers manager Jim Leyland about the slipup: “It wasn’t my most pleasant moment, if that’s what you mean. It wasn’t a very good feeling. We thought we probably had the third out. All of a sudden, against anybody, but particularly against a team like them with that short porch in right field, it was not a good feeling. But it worked out OK.”

Yes, it did. Granderson ultimately walked to bring the winning run to the plate. As fans chanted “M-V-P, M-V-P” for Cano, though, he grounded out to second base to end the game and send the series to Detroit tied.

“The umpire missed a couple of pitches. I think I missed a couple too,” Valverde said with a laugh about his eventful, 34-pitch ninth.

As for the game-ending groundout by Cano, Valderde said: “I said, ‘Thank you, god, for that.’”

Scherzer earned the win. He’s now a combined 4-0 against the Yankees in the regular season and postseason during his career.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Scherzer became the third pitcher to throw at least six scoreless innings and allow two or fewer hits in a postseason game at Yankee Stadium, joining Warren Spahn and Cliff Lee.

It matched the longest-ever postseason no-hit bid against the Yankees. Seattle’s Paul Abbott (five innings) and Norm Charlton (one out) also had 5 1/3 no-hit innings against the Yankees in Game 4 of the 2001 ALCS. Tino Martinez broke up that bid with a double.

“Today I was actually able to come out pretty calm and be able to settle in and throw a really good game,” Scherzer said.