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What’s on Tap: Previewing Sunday’s action

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The Mariners are set to clinch a three-game sweep over the Athletics on Sunday, provided they can keep their starter together. Literally. Left-hander James Paxton ripped the middle fingernail of his throwing hand on August 30 and, though the injury isn’t serious enough to land him on the disabled list, it has kept him on a strict pitch limit during the first week of September.

The lefty used a combination of tape and glue to keep his finger intact during a throwing session on Friday and should be in fine form to toss a few innings for Seattle over the weekend, albeit without his cutter. He went 4 ⅓ innings in his last start with Seattle, delivering six runs, a Jonathan Lucroy home run, and eight strikeouts to the Rangers while using a fake fingernail to protect his nailbed. Despite the barrage of runs allowed, the most the 27-year-old had given up since July 15, Paxton joined Matt Young, Kazuhiro Sasaki, and Felix Hernandez as one of four Seattle hurlers to strike out four batters in a single inning.

Against Paxton and a 74-68 Mariners’ lineup, the A’s will send out rookie right-hander Raul Alcantara, whose major league career got off to a rocky start last week with five hits, five runs, three HBP, and zero strikeouts in three innings pitched. The series finale is set to commence in Oakland at 4:05 PM EDT.

The rest of Sunday’s action:

Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Andriese) @ New York Yankees (Luis Cessa), 1:05 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Aaron Sanchez), 1:07 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Chris Tillman) @ Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander), 1:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Kenta Maeda) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Urena), 1:10 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds (Brandon Finnegan) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Ryan Vogelsong), 1:35 PM EDT

New York Mets (Seth Lugo) @ Atlanta Braves (Williams Perez), 1:35 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Adam Morgan) @ Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez), 1:35 PM EDT

Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber) @ Minnesota Twins (Jose Berrios), 2:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Ian Kennedy) @ Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale), 2:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Zach Davies) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Luke Weaver), 2:15 PM EDT

Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) @ Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver), 3:35 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Matt Moore) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Zack Greinke), 4:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis) @ San Diego Padres (Edwin Jackson), 4:40 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Jake Arrieta) @ Houston Astros (Mike Fiers), 8:05 PM EDT

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.