Dusty Baker doesn’t know how long Max Scherzer can last in NLDS Game 3

Getty Images
2 Comments

Max Scherzer is still slated to take the bump for the Nationals on Monday, but club manager Dusty Baker doesn’t know how long he can last. That could be an issue for the team, who dropped a 3-0 NLDS opener to the Cubs on Friday and, if they can’t even the series on Saturday, would be looking to spoil the Cubs’ clinch during Game 3 next week.

While the Nationals flailed in a two-hitter against Kyle Hendricks and company, Scherzer threw a bullpen session in preparation for his upcoming outing. He tweaked his right hamstring during his final regular season start last Saturday and was unavailable for the team’s first two Division Series matchups, but told Baker that his session “went well” on Friday and appears to be ready to go after an extended rest period.

Whether or not he walks into a high-pressure, must-win game on Monday is up to left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who will head off Game 2 for the Nats on Saturday afternoon. Gonzalez is flying high after a terrific 2017 run, during which he posted a 15-9 record and 2.96 ERA, and has found limited success in four postseason appearances despite not making it out of the first round. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 PM ET.

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers - Game Two
Getty Images
1 Comment

ARLINGTON, Texas – Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first couple of rows of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

After a single in five at-bats in the first game Tuesday, Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”