Max Scherzer ties nine-inning record with 20 strikeouts against the Tigers

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Update (9:45 PM EDT): Scherzer served up a solo home run to J.D. Martinez on his first pitch of the ninth inning to make it a 3-2 ballgame. He bounced back to strike out Cabrera for number 19. Victor Martinez singled to put the tying run on base. (Martinez, by the way, is the only hitter who didn’t strike out at least once against Scherzer on Wednesday night.) Scherzer then fanned Justin Upton on a slider for number 20. James McCann grounded out to third base to end the game in a 3-2 win for the Nationals. Scherzer ends up tying the nine-inning record with 20 strikeouts.

Scherzer threw 119 pitches, 96 of them for strikes. That’s almost an 81 percent strike rate.

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Earlier, we noted that Nationals starter Max Scherzer got nine consecutive outs on strikeouts in Wednesday’s start against the Tigers. He didn’t let up as the night went on. Scherzer will take the hill in the top of the ninth inning with 18 strikeouts to his name.

We usually do these live reports of games for pitchers flirting with no-hitters, but we figure what Scherzer has done is arguably even more special. There have only been 30 games in which a pitcher has struck out 18 or more batters in a game. Tom Cheney struck out 21 in a 16-inning game for the Washington Senators against the Orioles in 1962. Three pitchers are tied for the single-game nine-inning strikeout record with 20: Kerry Wood, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens (who did it twice).

Scherzer, who has already set the Nationals’ franchise record with 18 strikeouts, will face J.D. Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, and Victor Martinez to kick off the ninth inning.

The Nationals gave Scherzer three runs of support. Daniel Murphy has two RBI singles and an RBI double, and Danny Espinosa smacked a solo homer in the seventh. The Tigers’ lone run came on a Jose Iglesias solo home run.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.