HOUSTON (AP) — Max Scherzer is set to pitch another Game 7 in Houston with visiting teams undefeated in the series.
This time, Mad Max will be trying to win a pennant for the Texas Rangers.
Scherzer will start the deciding game of the AL Championship Series on Monday night. It comes four years after the three-time Cy Young Award winner started Game 7 of the World Series for Washington as the Nationals beat the Astros at Minute Maid Park in the only best-of-seven postseason series that went the distance without the home team winning a single game.
The Rangers, after losing all three of their ALCS games at home, forced Game 7 with a 9-2 win on Sunday night. Texas also won Games 1 and 2 in Houston.
Scherzer was the loser in Game 3 in Arlington on Wednesday night, when he returned after missing just more than a month with a right shoulder strain. The 39-year-old right-hander allowed five runs and five hits while throwing 63 pitches over four innings, but finished strong by striking out the last two batters he faced with a runner on base.
“He knows how to go out there and compete and pitch. I think he’s definitely going to be a lot better than his last outing,” said Game 6 winner Nathan Eovaldi. “He’s been ready to go and chomping at the bit. I know that last start didn’t sit so well, and the competitor that he is, he is going to go out and do a great job tomorrow.”
Cristian Javier, the Game 3 winner when the defending World Series champion Astros won 8-5, will pitch again for Houston.
The 26-year-old right-hander is 6-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 16 postseason games, winning all four of his starts. He has allowed only five hits and two runs over 22 innings in those four starts, including two runs and three hits over 5 2/3 innings earlier in this series.
“My thought process is to stay positive and go out and just compete,” Javier said, adding that Game 7 wouldn’t feel any different. “Not really. It’s just the same game. Same people. Just got to go out there and compete. Nothing different.”
These are the kind of big games the Rangers hoped for when they got Scherzer from the New York Mets in a trade-deadline deal this season. But they also feel they are in good shape to back him up.
“Well, we have a full bullpen because of the job that Nate did. So they’re all hands on deck,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “They’re all available. You look at matchups and things like that, but they’re all ready to go.”
Scherzer will be making his 24th postseason start for five different teams. His only Game 7 was in that 2019 World Series, when he allowed two runs over five innings without getting the decision in the Nationals’ 6-2 win. He won Game 1 in that Series, but got pushed back because of nerve irritation near his neck and pitched in the final game after getting a cortisone shot.
After Game 3 of this ALCS for the Rangers, Scherzer said his arm felt good, which was the most important thing. He said he felt he “had more in the tank,” but fully agreed with Bochy’s decision to pull him with Houston leading 5-0.
Scherzer’s postseason record is 7-8 with a 3.80 ERA, which also included appearances for Detroit, Washington, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets. The only other pitcher to start playoff games for five teams was David Wells for Cincinnati, Baltimore, the Yankees, Boston and San Diego from 1989-2006.
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