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.
With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.
Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.
The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.
Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.