ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Max Scherzer was roughed up again by the Houston Astros, this time in Game 3 of the AL Championship Series.
The Texas Rangers right-hander, who missed more than a month with a right shoulder strain, says he’ll be ready for another shot at the in-state rival if needed.
Scherzer lasted four innings Wednesday night, leaving with a five-run deficit in an 8-5 loss to the Astros that cut the Rangers’ series lead to 2-1.
“I don’t know exactly how I’ll be used from here on out,” Scherzer said. “But my arm feels good. That’s the No. 1 thing.”
The three-time Cy Young Award winner gave up three runs in the second on a wild pitch and Martín Maldonado’s two-run single, then allowed Jose Altuve’s leadoff homer in the third. Houston took a 5-0 lead on Mauricio Dubón’s RBI single in the fourth, when Scherzer struck out Jeremy Peña and Maldonado with a man on.
“I still feel like I had more in the tank,” said Scherzer, who threw 63 pitches. “Given what the score was and how the game was unfolding, I get why they pulled me. I 100% agree with it.”
Scherzer was dealing with forearm tightness six weeks ago when he allowed seven runs — all on three homers — over three innings in the Astros’ 12-3 win. He exited after 5 1/3 scoreless innings six days later, on Sept. 12 at Toronto, before going on the injured list.
Scherzer had his second consecutive rough postseason start, allowing five runs and five hits with a walk, a hit batter and four strikeouts. In the NL Wild Card Series with the New York Mets last season, he gave up seven runs and seven hits, including four homers, over 4 2/3 innings in a 7-1 loss to San Diego. Scherzer was acquired by Texas from a Mets in a deadline deal this summer.
As he left the field in the fourth inning, Scherzer stopped for a brief conversation with manager Bruce Bochy as he reached the dugout, with Bochy pointing toward the bullpen. Rookie left-hander Cody Bradford replaced him the eight-time All-Star in the fifth.
“I was trying to communicate how I felt,” Scherzer said. “I’m not second-guessing any decisions, but it’s also my job as the starting pitcher to communicate how I feel. I still felt strong. I still feel like I could get outs. Then it’s up to them to make the decision whether they want to use me or not.”
The 39-year-old right-hander became the second pitcher to start for five teams in the postseason following appearances for Detroit, Washington, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets. Scherzer has a 7-8 postseason record in 28 games.
David Wells started for Cincinnati, Baltimore, the Yankees, Boston and San Diego from 1989-2006.
Lefty Andrew Heaney and right-hander Dane Dunning had been the third options this postseason for the Rangers behind Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi. When Texas decided to include Scherzer on the roster for the ALCS, Bochy didn’t second-guess starting him for Game 3 over Heaney, who is set to take the mound on Thursday night.
Heaney and Dunning combined to pitch the first 5 2/3 innings of the 3-2 Division Series-opening win over Baltimore, each allowing one run.
“We did all we could to get him ready for this,” Bochy said of Scherzer. “He was ready. You saw the stuff. He’s one of our guys. There’s no regret on that.”
Scherzer, whose previous start against the Astros was in a matchup of three-time Cy Young winners, said Tuesday he is healthier physically than when he faced Justin Verlander last month. He said this outcome was about execution, not health.
“You might be able to isolate a few pitches here and there in terms of execution, but in general I thought I located the ball pretty well for a four-week layoff,” Scherzer said. “But this is the postseason. There’s no excuses.”
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb