Max Scherzer had electric stuff versus the Lake Elsinore Storm last night; stuff so good that it could have held major league batters to just one hit. But his stuff was so hard and was moving so much that Scherzer had trouble throwing his pitches for strikes consistently. He was working more quickly than he usually does in the big leagues, and might have had better command if he had worked at a more leisurely pace. Scherzer was wildly effective against minor leaguers, but might not have handled more experienced batters that knew how to lay off the bad ones.
"Facing a big leaguer for the first five innings was tough," Storm manager Carlos Lezcano conceded. "We made him throw pitches and had runners on base. They battled and kept playing hard, regardless of the score."
"You can see he knows what he is doing out there," losing pitcher Corey Kluber said of Scherzer. "Even when he was wild, he didn't get flustered. You watch the way he works – in and out and changing speeds."
Brad Chalk was the only hitter to notch a hit off Max Scherzer. The outfielder
lined a single straight back up the middle off the major leaguer, plating a run.
"They only difference between [major leaguers] and us is they are more consistent," Chalk said. "[Scherzer] has above average stuff and was throwing cheese, hitting 98, but you have to slow the game down and stay short to the ball – that is what I did."
But aside from Chalk, Lake Elsinore hitters were flummoxed by the big league talent.
"Max Scherzer was so smooth. He was up to 97 and 98," reported Lake Elsinore catcher Luis Martinez. "He struck me out the first time and the second time he nailed me with a 95 mph fastball. He is an unbelievable talent. He is one of the better pitchers I have faced in my career."
The Storm roughed up Chase Christianson for three runs in the eighth, but Jordan Norberto, Bryan Shaw, and William Spottiswood combined for four shutout innings of relief. Norberto earned the win, Shaw a hold, and Spottiswood the save.
Two University of Kentucky alumni starred for Visalia's offense. Batting third, right fielder Collin Cowgill reached base four times, going 2-for-2 with three runs scored. Cowgill knocked in the game's first two runs with a first-inning double that scored Ollie Linton and Taylor Harbin. Cowgill himself would score later in the inning on a groundout by Ed Easley. Rawhide cleanup hitter Sean Coughlin went 2-for-4, plus drove in what would be the game-deciding run with an eighth-inning double that plated Cowgill.
"Obviously, we had a lot of success hitting back-to-back in the order at Kentucky," Cowgill told FutureBacks.com. "You can never get tired of hitting in front of a guy like Coughlin, because he's such a threat. You're going to get a lot better pitches to hit when a guy like that is hitting behind you."
Max Scherzer warms up between innings:Scherzer walks Cole Figueroa on four pitches:
DH Justin Baum smacks a hard liner to center off Scherzer, but it is caught by speedster Ollie Linton:
Scherzer gets ahead leadoff batter Brad Chalk 0-2, then gets him to ground out:
Scherzer induces Logan Forsythe to pop out after a long at-bat
Denis Savage of MadFriars.com contributed to this report
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