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Max Scherzer pitched in relief for the Nationals in NLDS Game 5. It didn’t go well.


Game 5 of the NLDS just got into the sixth inning and it’s already an extremely weird baseball game. It hasn’t been pretty by any means, but the top of the fifth inning may have been the weirdest.

Max Scherzer came in the game out of the bullpen in a game his team led 4-3 after starter Gio Gonzalez could only last three innings and Matt Alberts threw one inning of relief. The thought was Scherzer would be able to pitch two or three innings and bridge the gap to the late innings. That did not happen.

Scherzer got two quick outs, getting Kris Bryant to ground out and Anthony Rizzo to fly out. Willson Contreras kept the inning alive, reaching on an infield single. Pinch-hitter Ben Zobrist then dropped a single into shallow left field. Addison Russell slipped a ground ball double down the third base line past a diving Anthony Rendon, scoring both runners to put the Cubs in front 5-4.

It didn’t stop there. Scherzer fell behind Jason Heyward 2-0, then manager Dusty Baker decided to just put him on first base with an intentional walk. After that, Scherzer struck out Javier Baez on a slider, but catcher Matt Wieters couldn’t hold onto the ball and it skipped by him. He retrieved the ball but threw wide of first base, skipping past Daniel Murphy providing backup into right field, allowing Russell to score and Heyward to move to third base. Wieters tried to argue Baez hit him in the mask on his backswing but to no avail. Pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella then reached on catcher’s interference by Wieters, ironically, which loaded the bases. Scherzer hit Jon Jay with a cutter that went in too far, forcing in another run and pushing the Cubs’ lead to 7-4. Mercifully, Bryant ended the inning by popping out to shortstop.

Scherzer’s line: one inning, four runs (two earned) on three hits, a walk, and a hit batsman with one strikeout. Yikes-a-roni.

There’s still plenty of game left, so the Nationals are by no means down for the count. They just weren’t expecting to have to dig out of a three-run hole Schezer put them in.

Madison Bumgarner diagnosed with fractured left hand

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Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner has been diagnosed with a fractured left hand, per a report from Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. He’ll undergo surgery on Saturday to insert pins in his pinky knuckle, adds The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly, and is expected miss anywhere from 4-6 weeks in recovery before he’s cleared to throw again. In a best-case scenario, the lefty will be ready to pitch again before the All-Star break, but nothing is set in stone just yet.

Bumgarner suffered the fracture during the third inning of Friday’s Cactus League game against the Royals. Whit Merrifield returned a line drive up the middle and the ball deflected off the top of Bumgarner’s pitching hand before bouncing into the infield. He chased after the ball but was unable to pick it up, and was immediately visited by manager Bruce Bochy and a team trainer before exiting the game.

The 28-year-old southpaw was gearing up for a massive comeback after losing significant playing time with an injury in 2017. During his tumultuous run with the Giants last year, he missed nearly three months on the disabled list after spraining his shoulder and bruising his ribs in a dirt bike accident. He finished the season with a 4-9 record in 17 starts and a 3.32 ERA (his first 3.00+ ERA since 2012), 1.6 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 111 innings. The Giants suffered as well; by season’s end, their pitching staff ranked seventh-worst in the National League with a cumulative 4.58 ERA and 10.1 fWAR.

This is the second massive injury the Giants’ rotation has sustained this week after right-hander Jeff Samardzija was diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle on Thursday. “Horrible news for us,” Bochy told reporters after Friday’s game. “That’s all you can say about it. There’s nothing you can do but push on.”