Max Scherzer was right. When Tigers manager Brad Ausmus strolled to the mound to pull him out of Thursday night's ALDS opener, Scherzer was observably unhappy. Sure, he'd yielded four runs across 7 1/3 innings to the Orioles, and Alejandro De Aza had just ripped a double off of him. Scherzer is the reigning Cy Young winner, he'd only thrown 98 pitches, and he didn't want to come out of the damn game. If only Ausmus had listened.
According to FanGraphs, when Scherzer was pulled the Tigers still had a 12% chance of winning the game. Those aren't great odds, but they're not nothing either.
Those odds would've been higher if the Tigers hadn't blown their best chance to tie the game in the top half of the 8th. Down 4–2 Ian Kinsler reached on an infield single, and the Tigers had Torii Hunter at-bat and the fearsome Miguel Cabrera on deck. But Kinsler was running as Hunter lined out to short, and got doubled off in the process. Cabrera came up and smacked a homer, but because of the unfortunate double play it came with nobody on base.
Instead the Tigers they went into the bottom of the eighth down one run, and Scherzer's last involvement in the game was giving up a double. Joba Chamberlain was brought in, and the Orioles: were safe on an error, stole a base, hit a single. Two more runs. Joakim Soria was brought in, and the Orioles: hit a single, were intentionally walked, hit a single, grounded out, hit a double. Four more runs. Phil Coke was brought in, and the Orioles: walked, hit a double, grounded out. Two more runs. Scherzer might have given up another run or two, but he probably wasn't going to give up eight.
By the time the Tigers finally came to bat in the 9th inning, their one run deficit had ballooned to nine and the game was effectively over. They even managed to load the bases, but Ian Kinsler wasn't having any of it. He swung at a third strike in the dirt for the final out of the game, but the ball squirted away from catcher Nick Hundley. If Kinsler ran it out, he just might've even been safe. But the Tigers were down nine runs and Kinsler just wanted to get back to his hotel room, so he stood there and let himself get tagged out. Ball game.
Photo via Rob Carr/Getty