Only three had done it before Max Scherzer in a nine-inning game, so Elias Sports Bureau didn’t need to reach deep into its record books to find Randy Johnson, Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens as the only players in Major League history to strike out 20 batters in a game.
Scherzer had more K’s than the Kardashians and outperformed them in the “sexy” – his word, not mine – department while overwhelming his former team, the Tigers. Most marveling, however, was that he threw only 23 balls and walked none.
For whatever reason, pitchers are taught when ahead in the count 0-2 that they should waste a pitch. For young pitchers in particular, it is what it suggests: a wasted pitch. It accomplishes little and threatens rhythm. If the batter is lost on the first two strikes, the pitcher should put him away ASAP. The odds are heavily in his favor.
Greg Maddux, for one, subscribed to using as few pitches as possible. Scherzer needed only three pitches to strike out nine batters Wednesday. Rather than nibble, he pounded the strike zone. He was dominant from start to finish.