CHICAGO -- Take your pick for your favorite Max Scherzer outing this season. Most folks will point to his 15-strikeout gem against the Pirates on May 20. Others will remind you about his eight scoreless innings, with 12 strikeouts, against the Rockies four weeks later.
Quietly, though, Wednesday's was one of Scherzer's better performances.
Scherzer made one mistake on Wednesday, a fourth-inning slider that caught too much of the plate before it was caught by Kevin Youkilis' home-run swing for a one-run White Sox lead. However, Scherzer did not give up the big inning to go with it. He came close, going to three full counts. Only Paul Konerko reached base out of it, hitting a two-out single before Scherzer stranded him by retiring Alex Rios.
Scherzer went to five full counts in his six innings, one big reason his pitch count climbed to 115 and his exit came one inning earlier than manager Jim Leyland would have liked.
Scherzer wasn't happy about going to full counts in the first place. He was happy to keep it at that.
"I think there were numerous times when it was 3-2 and I was still able to throw the changeup for a strike and collect an out in that situation," Scherzer said. "When I can do that for the team, that's usually when we get good results."
His two big full-count outs around Youkilis' home run both came on the changeup, a pitch he indicated he had tweaked a bit.
As good as Scherzer's pitching has been for the past few months -- he's now 10-1 with a 2.53 ERA in his last 14 starts, allowing just 75 hits over 92 1/3 innings with 113 strikeouts -- his September stretch is a different kind of effective. He has gone 19 innings since issuing his last walk, a third-inning pass to Dewayne Wise in Comerica Park Sept. 1. He hadn't gone back-to-back outings without a walk since July of last season, a 20 2/3-inning stretch with the All-Star break in between. He proved stingy with walks the following month but gave up too much damage on hits.
These days, hitters aren't producing much damage off him at all.
"When he throws over the plate, he's tough," White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski said, "and he's been doing that for a few months now. That's why his record is what it is and his strikeout numbers are what they are and everything is just there."