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Despite results, Scherzer seeks greater efficiency

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Max Scherzer drew three called-third strikes within six batters in his second start of the spring on Wednesday against the Astros. His only baserunner of the day over three innings of work came on a ground ball through the left side by speedy Jose Altuve. All in all, it was another sign of Scherzer picking up where he left off last year.

He still wasn't completely happy.

"I attacked the zone, didn't walk anybody. I'd like to pitch a little bit more efficiently overall, but I did a good job today," Scherzer said.

Efficiency has been a sticking point for Scherzer the last couple of years. His breakout over the past season and a half came in part from throwing a higher percentage of strikes, from 63.8 percent in 2011 to 65.9 percent last year, and from developing his curveball to throw to left-handed hitters. The combination allowed him to pitch deeper into games and keep his outing alive for more decisions.

He's making a point of it again this spring.

"I fell behind on some hitters in the first at-bat of the innings," Scherzer said of his outing Wednesday. "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 2-0 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."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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