Link-O-Rama: Happ scratched from start

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* J.A. Happ has been scratched from his scheduled start today after straining a muscle in his side while taking batting practice Saturday, so Jamie Moyer will take his place against the Astros.
Moyer hasn’t started since being bumped from the rotation for Pedro Martinez in mid-August, and had a 5.47 ERA in 22 starts before the demotion.
* Zack Greinke will get a couple extra days to rest before his next start after throwing 125 pitches Saturday. Greinke got stuck with a no-decision despite allowing just an unearned run over eight innings, which is sadly nothing for new for him.
Seven times this season he’s failed to get a victory while allowing two runs or fewer. He’s been the best pitcher in the league, but the Royals are doing their best to make that tough to see for some people.
* Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reports that Brandon Morrow will rejoin the Mariners’ rotation later this week after going 5-3 with a 3.60 ERA and 40/23 K/BB ratio in 10 starts at Triple-A following his mid-July demotion. Morrow has always had plenty of upside, but at 25 years old he needs to start showing that he can consistently throw strikes and work deep into games.
* Ryan Braun is out of the Brewers’ lineup this afternoon because of shoulder soreness.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.