BALTIMORE -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland credits Max Scherzer with learning how to make adjustments in the middle of a game, finding a consistent arm slot and adding pitches.
To Scherzer, though, the difference this season comes down to one big factor.
"The reason I'm pitching better is because I have a curveball," Scherzer said. "I have three pitches to throw at a left-handed hitter. That's the single reason why I'm pitching better."
Scherzer believes in it that much.
"It's just been huge for me," he said, "because most of the time, they stack left-handers against me. My slider has just never matched up well against lefties. I started with it last year, and it's gotten better every single time."
Scherzer feels confident enough in the curveball that he's willing to throw it when he's not ahead of a hitter. He threw one with a 1-1 count against Chris Dickerson in the second inning Friday and got a nasty swing and miss. He also threw one to Adam Jones in the sixth inning, one at-bat following the Oriole's two-run homer.
"That's the pitch that changes an at-bat," Scherzer said. "Curveball completely changes the approach. Now he's disrupted timing. Now he has to respect a third pitch. And you can't cover all three. You can't cover all three speeds."