Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Scherzer pitches to the New York Yankees in Game 2 of their MLB American League Division Series baseball playoffs in New York

Max Scherzer dazzles as Tigers even ALDS with Yankees

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Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer had a very up-and-down regular season. When he was good, he was great. When he was bad, it often got ugly.

On Sunday afternoon in New York City, the 27-year-old couldn’t have been much better.

Scherzer issued two first-inning walks, but settled in soon after and held the Yankees’ star-studded lineup hitless until Game 1 standout Robinson Cano blooped a single to left field in the sixth inning.

Scherzer wound up throwing six scoreless frames, yielding only two hits and striking out five Yankees while hurling 61 of his 104 pitches for strikes. He was aided offensively by Magglio Ordonez, who went 3-for-3, and Miguel Cabrera, who finished 3-for-4 with three RBI. Victor Martinez also drove in a run.

Curtis Granderson put the Yankees on the board with an eighth-inning solo home run and Nick Swisher added a solo shot off Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the bottom of the ninth. Then Jorge Posada tripled for the first time in 2011 and scored on an Andruw Jones sacrifice fly. But Valverde eventually got the job done for Detroit, and the Tigers tied the series with an exhilarating 5-3 Game 2 victory.

Notes

* Ordonez laced a one-out single in the top of the first inning, then Cabrera lined a two-run homer into the right field seats. It wasn’t a bad pitch, and Cabrera didn’t make especially great contact. You have to wonder how many home runs Cabrera would hit to that right field porch if he called Yankee Stadium home.

* Yankees starter Freddy Garcia retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced after Cabrera’s two-run blast, then got himself into trouble again in the sixth inning. He allowed six hits and four runs over 5 1/3 frames.

* Derek Jeter nearly led off the bottom of the first inning with an extra-base hit, but speedy Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson retreated quickly and snared the ball on the run just before the warning track.

* The sun was shining brightly at Yankee Stadium in the early innings, causing some problems for both team’s outfielders. But it was a welcome sight for a series that has already featured a 27-hour rain delay.

* Rain made another appearance in the bottom of the seventh inning, but only for a quick shower. It reappeared in the bottom of the ninth and was coming down hard as the Yankees attempted a comeback.

* Posada drew a tough walk in the fifth inning that seemed to throw Scherzer slightly off his rhythm. The Detroit right-hander hit the next better he faced (Yankees catcher Russell Martin) before getting out of the jam. The Yankees finally broke through with their first hit in the very next frame.

* Posada followed a leadoff walk by Nick Swisher with a single up the middle, driving Scherzer from the game in the seventh. But Joaquin Benoit came on in relief and retired three straight batters — fanning two.

* Cabrera caught the Yanks napping in the eighth inning and stole the first base of his postseason career.

* Alex Rodriguez finished 0-for-3 with a walk and is now 0-for-8 in the series. The boo birds came out.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.