Clay Buchholz scratched from final start due to back stiffness

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Clay Buchholz was scratched from his final start of the season today against the Yankees due to lower back stiffness, according to Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com.

Because of last night’s rainout, Tim Wakefield will oppose Andy Pettitte in the first game of a day-night doubleheader this afternoon.

Buchholz said he felt his lower back “grab” at him during his normal throwing session Friday, but also admitted that his back has been an issue over the past several starts.

“I would like to throw another [game]. [The back soreness]
has been there for the last five or six starts. It might have something
to do with the cold weather. [Monday in Chicago] was the first cold game
I’ve pitched in a while, and I had a couple of innings I was in the
dugout a little bit longer and then cranked it back up to 100 percent
once I got off the bench. It was one of those that’s in a sensitive
spot.”

Buchholz, 26, wraps up the year with 17-7 record to go along with a 2.33 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP over 28 starts. There was a little bit of intrigue going into his final scheduled start of the season, not only because he had a chance at 18 wins, but also because he could have won the ERA title over Felix Hernandez. For instance, he would have passed King Felix if he managed to pitch five shutout innings. 

Ah well, doesn’t matter now. Still a pretty fantastic season for Buchholz.  

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.