Alex Rodriguez came up with his first hit since Game 4 of the ALDS when he singled off reliever Phil Coke in the ninth inning Sunday against the Tigers. But hitting left-handers hasn’t been a real problem for him at any point this season.
In his three at-bats against righty Anibal Sanchez today, Rodriguez struck out twice and lined out to left field. He’s 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts and a walk versus right-handers in the postseason.
And now, assuming he starts, Rodriguez will face the postseason’s best righty of all when the Tigers throw Justin Verlander in Game 3 Tuesday in Detroit.
One imagines Rodriguez will play third base once again. After all, he went 4-for-6 with two homers against Verlander during the regular season. He’s 8-for-24 with three homers lifetime versus the 2011 AL MVP.
Still, it seems like Rodriguez hasn’t gotten around on a good fastball from a right-hander in weeks. Sanchez had an easy time with him for two at-bats today before giving him an offspeed pitch he could handle in his third plate appearance. To his credit, Rodriguez hit it hard, only to see it end up in Quintin Berry’s glove. Even so, it was a pitch Rodriguez may well have taken out of the park a year or two ago.
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.