BOSTON – Game 2 starter Max Scherzer finished the regular season with a record of 21-3 and a 2.90 ERA. He was the major-league leader in wins, with one of them coming against the Red Sox on June 22 at Comerica Park. And then he won two more games in the ALDS against Oakland.
Manager Jim Leyland says there are many reasons for Scherzer's run of success, but one of them is confidence.
“[It] happens now and then; guys get on a roll," said Leyland. "Whether it’s the guy shooting three-pointers or [the] hot field-goal kicker or whatever it is. In sports, guys get on a roll from time to time. And he’s been on positive roll.
"He comes in relief the other day [in Game 4 against the A'] and ends up winning the game. After winning 22 games" -- 21 in the regular season and his Game 1 start against the A's -- "he comes in and gets another one out of the bullpen. Sometimes guys get on a roll. And that’s the type of year he’s had.”
There are other, more concrete reasons, of course.
“I just think a little more experience, and he got to where he could repeat his delivery mechanically on a more consistent basis,” Leyland said of the adjustments Scherzer made this season allowing him to be so successful.
“Had a curveball, another kind of show-me weapon pitch. But basically . . . he kept his mechanics intact, for the most part. And he was able to do that consistently.”
But in his last appearance against the Red Sox -- while he was making his second attempt to record his 20th victory -- Scherzer failed . . . or, rather, his teammates failed to provide him with enough support. He went seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts, on Sept. 3, but took the loss in Boston's 2-1 victory.
-- Leyland was asked what advice he might give shortstop-turned-outfielder Jhonny Peralta on playing left field at Fenway, with the quirks of the Wall.
“We’re not making too big a deal out of that,” Leyland said. “Everyone is making a big deal out of it. Heard somebody talking about the ladder [attached to the left-field wall]. Carl Yastrzemski, who played the ladder, he was one hell of a man. When it hits that ladder, I don’t think any Red Sox, Tiger, Kansas City Royal, or anyone else knows where it’s going.
“It is a little trick to play the wall. And the Red Sox do that better because they’re used to it. As far as getting carried away, talking about the ladder, that’s ridiculous. Nobody knows what it’s going to do when it hits that thing. Just do the best you can with it.
-- Leyland said he sees starting pitching, more than bullpens, impacting this series.
“Everybody talks about the bullpen,” he said. “But when you get in the short series, just like the other night, we didn’t use our bullpen. I think this will be a starting pitching series, with the exception of the ninth inning most likely. You’re going to see [Jon] Lester and [John] Lackey and [Jake] Peavy and those kind of guys.
“Our guys are really good. And I think both managers are hoping that the bullpen, unless it’s real late, is not as significant maybe. If our starters aren’t good, we’re not going to win this series, and probably the same for them. That’s what I would think.”
-- This is the first time in postseason history the Red Sox and Tigers have met. But one or both have been in the playoffs in 10 of the last 11 seasons.
-- Teams playing Game 1 of the ALCS at home have won 27 of 43, or 63 percent of series.
-- Tigers pitchers finished the regular season with 1,428 strikeouts, establishing a major-league record. It surpassed the 1,404 strikeouts Cubs pitchers recorded in 2003.
-- Tigers batters finished the regular season first in the American League with a .283 average; 1,625 hits, and a .346 on-base percentage. They were second, to the Red Sox, with 767 RBI. Their .283 average is the highest team mark since they hit .287 in 2007.
-- Game 4 starter Doug Fister, in workout shorts and sweatshirt, was a pregame visitor to the press box, taking a quick tour of the park to take some pictures.