JUPITER, Fla. -- Max Scherzer led the Majors in run support among starting pitchers last year. It figures, then, that the biggest offensive outburst the Tigers have enjoyed all spring came with Scherzer on the mound.
Like so many times in 2013, Scherzer waited through a long inning on the bench as his offense piled up runs in a seven-run third and five-run fourth in Monday's 17-5 win over the Cardinals, then came back out to the mound like he had only been sitting for a couple minutes.
"I had to do that a lot last year," Scherzer said. "I got so much run support, there's times that they were scoring five, seven runs in an inning. There were times last year, I wasn't efficient at that, at the long layoffs and doing a good job of coming back out.
"It's easier to do it in warm weather. It's a lot more difficult to do it in cold weather. That's one thing I found. But the other thing, you really have to take your warmup pitches seriously. You really have to loosen your arm back up. You have to get the tempo going in your delivery. There's a lot of things going on in those warmup pitches."
Scherzer pulled that off with a mix of pitches, including a nasty curveball he unleashed on left-handed hitters. His breaking ball registered at 74 mph on the Roger Dean Stadium radar gun to send down Jon Jay swinging to strand two runners in the fourth, and he threw another at 72 to retire Matt Holliday leading off the fifth.
Four of Scherzer's five strikeouts came against left-handed hitters.
"There's only a few times I'm actually pitching for a strikeout," Scherzer said, "but it was nice to be able to get a couple times through the lineup. I was able to sequence them differently, and I felt my curveball was very good today. That's probably why I was able to get some of those swing-and-misses when I needed to.
"I have a fastball. I've got a great changeup. When I have a good curveball, it makes me an even better pitcher."
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.