Shaun Marcum: NLCS Game 6 “the biggest of my career”

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Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum is well aware of what’s at stake in Sunday night’s NLCS Game 6 against the Cardinals. He never made it to the postseason during his five years with the Blue Jays and has struggled mightily in his first two October outings for Milwaukee. The guy needs to rebound.

“It’s exciting,” Marcum told ESPN’s Amy K. Nelson after a light team workout on Saturday afternoon. “It’s definitely the biggest game of my career.”

Marcum allowed seven earned runs in just 4 2/3 innings during a start against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS and surrendered five earned runs in just four innings in Game 2 of the NLCS against St. Louis. For the postseason, he’s sporting a 12.46 ERA.

But Marcum told Nelson that he’s “used to getting beat up” from his days in the American League East and believes he has an altered game plan that will help him find success Sunday night at Miller Park. It’s about locating first with his fastball, then changing speeds on the Cardinals’ hot-hitting lineup.

“I feel great, actually,” Marcum said Saturday. “Arm feels good, body feels good. It’s just matter of going out there and locating and keeping the ball down, throwing strikes to stay ahead of the hitters.”

First pitch is scheduled for just after 8:00 p.m. ET on TBS. Craig will be hosting a live chat here on HBT.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”