LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tired of exhibition games, Max Scherzer has decided to employ a different strategy each time he takes the mound before the regular season starts.
"I am not treating it like it's spring training anymore," he said. "From here on in, it's for real."Scherzer pitched five solid innings Tuesday in his first sharp outing of the spring, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 6-2 victory over the Washington Nationals.Brandon Inge and Gerald Laird homered for the Tigers. Rookie Austin Jackson had three hits, including two doubles, to boost his spring average to .375.Scherzer, who allowed one run and four hits, was acquired from Arizona in a three-team deal in December. Curtis Granderson went from the Tigers to the New York Yankees and Detroit also sent All-Star pitcher Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks in the trade.Scherzer went 9-11 with a 4.12 ERA in 30 starts last year but had struggled this spring. He said he lowered his ERA to 7.15 by treating it like a regular-season game."It was time to bear down," Scherzer said. "I needed to pick up my intensity and just throw strikes."Scherzer's new teammates have noticed his competitive streak."He's as tough a competitor as Justin Verlander," Inge said. "We play golf, he has to make every shot, every putt. When he takes the mound, he isn't all about mechanics, He just says, 'I'm going to get you.' He's a bulldog and that's a good thing."Scott Olsen, trying to rebound from an injury-filled 2009 season, yielded six runs and 12 hits in 4 1/3 innings for Washington.Manager Jim Riggleman said Olsen, who was making his third spring start, showed some improvement. Olsen entered with a 7.20 ERA."That was the best he's thrown all spring," Riggleman said. "The results weren't that great but he really only gave up a couple of hard hits. I'm starting to like what I see."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland reiterated that 2B Scott Sizemore will start on opening day. Sizemore went 1 for 2 and made a nice move to turn a double play, but had been struggling with an ankle injury.