Yesterday was filled with rumors about the Red Sox working on a trade for Bruce Chen to start a potential Game 163 tiebreaker, but instead the Royals left-hander took the mound as scheduled for his start against the Twins … and tossed eight shutout innings.
Oh, and it turns out the Red Sox didn’t need a starter today anyway.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com first reported the possibility of Chen going to Boston and Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes that the two sides worked on a deal throughout the day, but couldn’t come to terms. Presumably had they been relatively close to finding common ground in the trade talks the Royals would have pulled Chen from the meaningless start just in case.
Chen said afterward that he hoped the trade to Boston would happen because he’s “always wanted to help a team” reach the playoffs and “you want to be the guy.” Plus, as an impending free agent there’s no guarantee the 34-year-old will remain in Kansas City anyway. As a Type B free agent he’d bring back a compensatory draft pick upon signing elsewhere, so Dutton reports that the Royals requested a pair of prospects in return.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.
Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.