Turning point: Scherzer's escape

The best pitcher in the American League in 2013 was the best pitcher when the Detroit Tigers most needed three outs in Game 4 of their series against the Oakland Athletics.

Max Scherzer’s bases-loaded escape with a one-run lead in the eighth inning was the highlight of a win that forced a Game 5 on Thursday night.

Out No. 1: Josh Reddick

Athletics slugger Reddick gave Scherzer a tough battle, getting ahead in the count 3-1 before fouling off a pair of 95 mph pitches.

After throwing six straight pitches of 94 mph or faster, Scherzer pulled the string on an 85 mph changeup.

Scherzer gave up three hits with his changeup in this game, one shy of the most he allowed with the pitch in any game this season.

But this one induced a wild swing-and-a-miss for the first out.

Out No. 2: Stephen Vogt

Vogt was the hero of Game 2, getting the game-winning hit after striking out three times.

Coincidentally, the hit that put the Tigers ahead was one by a player who had struck out three times in this game, Austin Jackson.

Vogt got a hit in the seventh inning against Scherzer on an 88-mph changeup. He’d get an 0-2 changeup from Scherzer but foul it away.

Scherzer didn’t mess around with the next pitch. He threw it 98 mph.

Pitches that speed are tough to hit against anyone. Scherzer had thrown 77 of them in two-strike counts over the last three seasons (he rarely throws a pitch that fast early in the count). They netted 28 strikeouts and yielded only three hits.

Vogt made it 29 with his swing-and-miss.

Out No. 3: Alberto Callaspo

Within what was a very small sample, Callaspo had been pretty good with the bases loaded this season, particularly with two outs.

Callaspo had five turns in that situation prior to Game 4 with two walks and two singles. The one out was a line drive to center field.

He’d line to center again this time, the ball hanging up long enough for Jackson to snag it.

Inning over, one-run lead preserved.

Stat of the Day

The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that before Thursday, there had never been a postseason game in which the team at bat had the bases loaded and nobody out and didn't score in the eighth inning or later of a game in which the team in the field had a lead of exactly one run (there were four instances in which that situation came up).

In other words, an escape of this sort had never happened before this late in a game.

But Scherzer was the right man for the job.

Opponents are now 0-for-13 with seven strikeouts with the bases loaded against Scherzer in 2013.

He’s faced 14 hitters with the bases loaded in 2013 and only one, Eric Hosmer, produced a run in any way -- with a bases-loaded walk on April 24.