KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Making his second start of the spring, right-hander Max Scherzer threw three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out three batters, leading the Tigers to a 3-0 victory over the Astros on Wednesday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.
Scherzer, the reigning American League Cy Young winner, threw 25 of his 37 pitches for strikes, retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced. All three strikeouts he recorded were looking, including fanning Astros top prospects Jon Singleton and George Springer to start the second inning.
"I fell behind on some hitters in the first at-bat of the innings," Scherzer said. "Those can lead to walks and long innings when you're not efficient to that first batter. I fell behind 2-0 in the second inning and 2-1 in the third inning. That's part of the process of relentlessly throwing strikes, working ahead of hitters. That's the process of pitching efficiently, not the 1-2-3 innings. It's a process of attacking the zone and getting better."
The Tigers scored in the second when Nick Castellanos hit into a double play that scored Don Kelly, who had singled. Ian Kinsler's two-out, RBI single in the fifth inning off Anthony Bass made it 3-0, with the third run scoring on an error.
Astros right-hander Lucas Harrell, also making his second start, worked three innings and allowed three hits and one run. Harrell recorded seven groundouts, which is his forte.
"I feel like the stuff I've been working on is really starting to pay off, and I'm not missing by a whole lot," Harrell said. "I got a lot of first-pitch strikes. I talked to [pitching coach Brent] Strom before the game, and we said that one thing we wanted to work on was first-pitch strikes, and two of the first three pitches for strikes. And I felt that was a thing I was doing real well today."
Up next: Weather permitting, Justin Verlander will complete his comeback from core muscle surgery when he makes his first start of the spring on Thursday afternoon against the Phillies at Joker Marchant Stadium. Drew VerHagen, Ian Krol, Phil Coke and Al Alburquerque are also scheduled to pitch in the 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Miguel Cabrera, Torii Hunter, Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Alex Avila and Austin Jackson are all expected to start.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.