An interview with: MAX SCHERZER
THE MODERATOR: We will get started with Tigers' pitcher, Max Scherzer.
Q. Max, looking back to 2011, the ALCS and facing Nelson Cruz, how much do you remember about that series and the match‑ups facing him, because I know you're big on looking back at stuff like that? And how much, if at all, does that affect how you pitch a guy like that going into the series?
MAX SCHERZER: You know, I've had more recent at‑bats against him. Since 2007, I feel like I'm a different pitcher since 2007. I'm aware he's a very talented hitter, but that's something I will sit down before tomorrow and come up with a game plan of what I want to try to do against him, how I want to execute my pitches and get him out and hopefully multiple times. So that's something that will be addressed tomorrow.
Q. From the last time you saw the Orioles, how different does this lineup look? And as far as the way they're hitting and the approach, is it different than what you saw them last in the season?
MAX SCHERZER: It's been a long time and I don't think I faced them this year. I think they're going to have a whole different look than what I've seen in the past.
Q. Baltimore, as we know, has the fewest steals in the majors. You're good about holding runners, stepping off HP. How do you remind yourself to keep doing that even against a team without a lot of steals compared to do a team like Kansas City?
MAX SCHERZER: You try to identify those guys that are capable of stealing that base against you. Once I have an idea of which guys I need to pay attention to more, those will be the type of guys that, like I said, I'll hold the ball, do things to try to disrupt their timing so they can't just steal a base on me.
But given that if they are a low‑stealing base team, I won't have to do as many techniques against as I would, say, Kansas City.
Q. This offense for the Orioles hit a lot of home runs during the course of the year, obviously, 48% of their runs were scored ‑‑ how does that affect you in your approach or does it? How do you go about pitching to that lineup?
MAX SCHERZER: A team that swings the bat like that, they're dangerous. They're dangerous 1 through 9. That's something I know going into the start. They need to have a good game plan against me and I need to have a good game plan against them.
And as for the home runs, you can't worry about that. You can't focus on the negatives. For me, I can only focus on what I can control. That's executing what I think will be successful and that's what I will do, is try to come up with a plan and execute that for as long as I can.
Q. Max, the strength of this team is it's pitching, it's been that way for a long time. But to throw the guys you're going to throw out in this series, yourself included, what's that mean to this team and the confidence it gives you guys?
MAX SCHERZER: Well, pitching is one of our strengths, but I feel like we have so many other strengths as well. When you have a lineup with Miguel and Victor and now J.D., who is absolutely killing the ball, we can do some things offensively.
So I feel like we're a complete team and hopefully we can play our best baseball in October, and if that happens, we expect good things!
Q. When you get to this ballpark, Max, the consciousness of being a fly‑ball pitcher versus the security, let's say, that Comerica would provide a bit more on the margins there, does it become a component, a factor or is that even a thought in your process?
MAX SCHERZER: The only thought that you can take from it is that you've just got to continuously execute pitches. You've got to be working ahead in the count. I think if you fall behind against these hitters, they have the power to be able to beat you. So you can't, you know, just be laying cookies in there in 2‑0 situations.
From the other side, I can't be in those situations tomorrow. I can't be in 2‑0 counts or 2‑1 counts because if I do, I'm going to get beat. So it's an onus on me to work ahead in the count.
Q. Your club is shifting a little more than it did last year in positioning differently. What role do you have in how much they're doing when you're on the mound?
MAX SCHERZER: Very little. Actually, that's something that they do their scouting and come up with the guys that they want to shift on and then they will just let me know. Most of the time I say, If you got something that this is going to work over the long run, let's do it. I leave that all to Brad and our coaches that come up with which guys we need to do that with. If they feel like they have something, I'm all about it.
Q. And your teammates are accustomed to this time of year, the bright lights, the playoffs. How would you describe the changes or the differences this time of year and how would you quantify that experience and what advantage there is, if any?
MAX SCHERZER: I think talent wins out, so the most talented team is going to win the series. You can say we have experience, but if they go out and play better baseball than us, our experience doesn't matter. I just know from being on this team and watching everybody play, when we get into these types of situations, get to the playoffs, we seem to play our best baseball. We have guys that step up and do everything they can to win.
I love being a part of this clubhouse. I just know in the belief of us, that we're going to give it absolutely everything we've got for this division series.
Q. How would you compare where you are this time, right now, to where you were last year? How have you evolved or changed or improved?
MAX SCHERZER: I do feel like I'm a better pitcher today than I was last year. I feel like I'm more consistent with my pitches and how I'm able to execute them. And I feel like my curveball gives me more this year than last year, and it gives me a four‑pitch picks, being able to attack those right‑ and left‑hand hitters. I only anticipate getting better as well.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Max. Good luck tomorrow.