Back in early February the Rangers signed Hunter Pence to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Oftentimes when a big name on the back end of his career signs such a deal it, well, doesn’t turn out great and that spring training stint is the swan song of a nice career. That’s not the case with Pence, though. He has made the Rangers’ Opening Day roster.
Pence, 35, is batting .356 in 45 at bats with three homers, seven RBI, five doubles and six stolen bases in six attempts. And I suppose he picked the right team to do his spring thing with, because the Rangers have room for him. The current depth chart doesn’t have a better fourth outfielder option behind Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Delino DeShields.
Whether he sticks on the roster depends on whether this bounce back continues. Last year he played 97 games with the Giants, hitting a mere .226/.358/.332 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 248 plate appearances. Here’s hoping for a better 2019.
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.