Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer allowed five runs -- all earned -- in six innings Tuesday against the Athletics. (Beck Diefenbach / Associated Press)
Oakland, Calif. — For the Tigers, unfortunately, the answers procured by their 6-5 victory over the A’s on Tuesday were not to questions being loudly asked.
Such as ...
* Can Rajai Davis steal third if the pitcher isn’t looking?
Yes, it turned out, he can. And with the run set up by such a daring tie-game move in the eighth inning, the Tigers didn’t add a ninth game to the eight that made up their 1-7 skid.
* Can the Tigers sound convincing by calling such a slump a “little funk?”
It depends on who is calling it a little funk, but Joe Nathan sounded convincing because he’s been on many teams that have experienced them before.
“As bad as it’s been for the last seven or eight days, you wouldn’t know it by being around this clubhouse,” Nathan said. “We have guys in here who’ve played for a number of years. I think everyone knows you’re going to go through funks.
“It’s not a time to panic. It’s time to keep coming to the park.”
But there was a loud question being asked that wasn’t answered.
* When will Max Scherzer be himself again?
“I need to study myself and figure out what I must do to get better, and get some life back in my pitches,” he said after allowing five runs in six innings.
In the grand scheme of things, especially since Davis said he might have to put his delayed steal of third on the shelf for a year so as to not overuse it, Scherzer’s effectiveness is more of an issue than the next surprise up the Tigers baserunning sleeve.
That’s two consecutive starts by Scherzer which can be suitably described as something other than good.
If they weren’t outrightly bad, they were closer to that description than anything meaning acceptable.
It was admirable Scherzer left after the seventh inning instead of the five-run second in the first of the two sub-par starts.
Just as it was of some consolation he left after the sixth instead of the fourth when the A’s took a 5-4 lead.
But the fact remains that for the first time since May 2011, Scherzer has allowed 12 runs in two combined starts.
And for the first time since September 2010, he has allowed 20 hits in two starts.
He’s not been himself, in other words, according to what is now defined as Scherzer being himself.
So the question wasn’t answered.
If anything, it got louder.
“I’m more frustrated with this one because I left more pitches up,” Scherzer said. “I’m into more second-guessing about this one, and the pitches I threw.
“I feel I can pitch better, and I have to find a way to cut these walks out, as well. I hate walks. I hate ’em.”
Because of how much more difficult it makes the task at hand.
“I was getting killed because I could not get the leadoff man out,” he said. “They were always getting their leadoff man on, which meant I wasn’t pitching with one out and nobody on.
“When you can get an early out, it just takes so much more to beat you. But I’m not executing pitches well enough to do it. I’ll look at video, make a few tweaks and hope I’m better in my next start in Seattle.”
As with the start in Cleveland, manager Brad Ausmus felt Scherzer “definitely got better as he went along.
“I always feel Max is going to be fine,” Ausmus said. “Even when he gives up a couple of runs, I think he’s going to be fine.
“His concentration is exceedingly high when he’s on the mound. He’s an intelligent, focused pitcher. He had some pitches that could have gone either way in big situations. But he gave us a chance to win.”
Not as good as the chance he’s been known to give his team for the better part of a few years now.
But a chance.