Reds sign Jeff Francis

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Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that the Reds have signed left-hander Jeff Francis to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Francis showed a lot of promise early in his career with the Rockies, but was sidetracked by injuries and has posted a 5.26 ERA in 471 innings since missing all of the 2009 season. Last season he had a 6.27 ERA in 70 innings for Colorado.

He’s actually returning to the Reds organization after spending part of 2012 pitching for their Triple-A team, but Francis never pitched for Cincinnati in the big leagues and at age 33 he’s mostly just minor-league depth at this point.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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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.