OAKLAND -- Max Scherzer sat in the Tigers' dugout on Tuesday night at the O.co Coliseum hoping upon hope that he wouldn't have to make his Wednesday start against the A's in Game 4 of the best-of-five American League Division Series.
Had the Tigers won, they'd have swept the A's and Scherzer would have been happy to make his next start against either the Yankees or Orioles sometime during the AL Championship Series. But the Tigers lost Game 3, 2-0, and now it's Scherzer's turn. He'll face Oakland right-hander A.J. Griffin at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT.
"Yeah, that's how it was," Scherzer said on Tuesday night. "I was the biggest cheerleader today, hoping that we would win. I mean, it is a little bit weird not wanting to pitch. But at the end of the day, the team comes first, and obviously we wanted to win today. Given that obviously we weren't able to come through, so now it's my turn to go out there and give the team a chance to win."
Scherzer's turn in the rotation was skipped in late September because of nagging soreness in his right shoulder, and then he twisted his right ankle a week ago at Kansas City when the Tigers celebrated on the field after winning their second consecutive AL Central title.
Key stat: Second in Majors in K's, a category in which the A's led all of baseball.
Key stat: Held opponents to a .215 average in Oakland this season.
At O.co Coliseum
2012: 1 GS, 1-0, 2.84 ERA Career: 2 GS, 1-1, 5.56 ERA
2012: 8 GS, 3-0, 3.21 ERA Career: 8 GS, 3-0, 3.21 ERA
Against this opponent
2012: 2 GS, 1-0, 3.24 ERA Career: 4 GS, 2-1, 3.79 ERA
2012: 1 GS, 0-1, 9.64 ERA Career: 1 GS, 0-1, 9.64 ERA
Loves to face: Stephen Drew, 0-for-4, 2 K Hates to face: Josh Reddick, 3-for-5, 3B, RBI
Loves to face: Delmon Young, 0-for-3, K Hates to face: Miguel Cabrera, 2-for-2, HR, 2B, 2 RBI
Why he'll win: He's 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA and 110 K's since the All-Star break.
Why he'll win: Has never lost at Oakland Coliseum.
Pitcher beware: Hampered by right shoulder fatigue and a twisted right ankle.
Pitcher beware: Allowed a career-high five runs in Detroit on Sept. 18.
Bottom line: Finish the series so Justin Verlander can open the ALCS.
Bottom line: Must-win game if the A's magical season is to continue.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was going to hold Scherzer out of the season finale, but the righty wound up throwing four innings against the Royals, allowing no runs on three hits, while walking two and striking out three.
"He feels great," Leyland said. "How long he'll be able to go will have something to do with the Oakland hitters. We'll play that by ear. But health-wise, he's very healthy. He's 100 percent. He threw about 75, 80 pitches over in Kansas City. So we'll monitor him closely. But I expect him to be full bore, all out, and the game will dictate how long he pitches."
Scherzer agreed that he feels good.
"My deltoid has been fine," he said. "I was able to get treatment and after the second setback we really took care of it. I needed more rest, and that's what we gave it. Making that start, it was very important for me to get back out there. I'm at 100 percent. It's recovered fine. And I've been good ever since."
A's manager Bob Melvin knows Scherzer well. Melvin was skipper of the D-backs when Scherzer was their first-round pick, 11th overall, in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. A raw talent and highly touted right from the beginning, the Arizona baseball brain trust at the time worried about Scherzer's stamina and shoulder strength, limiting his pitch count after he missed some time early in his career with arm problems.
"Yeah, he has a pretty impressive arm," Melvin said. "He extends it probably a little unique to anybody else. I remember the first time I actually played catch with him, the ball gets on you a lot quicker than it appears because of the extension that he creates. He gets out there a little bit farther than most guys do. I think the only question in Arizona: Was he going to be a closer type or was he going to be a starter? And he probably could have been either. He's developed into quite a starter. I know they're happy to have him. He's a tough competitor on top of it."
The D-backs decided not to wait on Scherzer, making him part of a three-way trade that benefited all of the teams. On Dec. 8, 2009, the D-backs sent Scherzer and left-hander Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers, who also obtained center fielder Austin Jackson from the Yankees. The Yankees got center fielder Curtis Granderson from the Tigers and sent right-hander Ian Kennedy to the D-backs. Arizona completed the deal by picking up right-hander Edwin Jackson from Detroit. Jackson has moved on and is now pitching for the Nationals.
Scherzer's first start in the postseason came last year in Game 2 of the Tigers' five-game victory over the Yankees in the 2011 ALDS.
The 5-3 win at Yankee Stadium went like this: After a shaky 27-pitch first inning, Scherzer held the Bronx Bombers to two hits -- a pair of singles -- while walking four and striking out five. By the time he left after allowing the first two batters of the seventh inning to reach safely, he had staked his club to a 4-0 lead.
Scherzer would like those kind of results on Wednesday.
"The way I've recovered over the past 10 days has been really good," Scherzer said. "Like I said, that start in Kansas City, I was able to go out there pain free, let it fly, and it felt good. I was able to recover off of that. And there shouldn't be any limitations on me tomorrow."