In nearly every game he has started since becoming a complete pitcher, there’s been a moment exquisitely defining Max Scherzer’s maturation.

Sometimes there are many such moments.

But in Monday night’s 2-0 Tigers’ victory over the Houston Astros, one stood out.

With Astros at first and second in the top of the eighth, the Tigers leading by a run, but with Jose Altuve, Houston’s best hitter, at the plate with a full count on him and one out, Scherzer’s next pitch could easily have been a fastball.

“Three or four years ago, it would have been,” Scherzer said.

Back then, he hadn’t yet developed a confidence in all his pitches. It would have been a fastball because it had to be a fastball.

But in 2014, with Scherzer (4-1) now one of the premier pitchers in baseball, it could have been any of the four pitches he throws.

“Whatever Alex was going to call, I was going to go with,” Scherzer said of catcher Alex Avila.

So the pitch was a change-up.

That didn’t look like one.

Scherzer threw a change-up that from the side looked like a slider to manager Brad Ausmus.

“Because of the depth of the pitch, I can understand that,” said Scherzer, who has lowered his ERA from 2.45 to 1.72 with 14 scoreless innings.

“The good pitchers have one or two off-speed pitches they can throw for strikes,” Ausmus said. “Max is obviously one of those guys.”

It was the pitch of the game — kind of a strange game in which the Tigers were looking for, and found, their sixth consecutive victory, but also one in which the Astros did their overmatched best to be pesky.

It’s hard to be pesky, though, when you don’t score.

With pinch-runner Marwin Gonzalez taking from second, Altuve struck out swinging. Despite the pitch being thrown only at 83 mph, Avila easily threw out Gonzalez at third.

End of threat.

End of inning.

And with Victor Martinez doubling the Tigers’ lead in the bottom of the eighth with a solo home run, end of 1-0 lead.

Joe Nathan earned his sixth save with a scoreless, but eventful ninth inning in which a challenge on a close call at second base went the Tigers’ way.