Max Scherzer
Getty Images

Max Scherzer joins rare club with 2,500th career strikeout


Nationals ace Max Scherzer had another banner night on Friday, firing seven innings of two-run, 10-strikeout ball in a nailbiting 4-3 loss to the Padres. While he failed to boost his current 1-3 record, he accomplished something of far greater relevance to his career: his 2,500th strikeout.

The pivotal moment arrived in the top of the sixth, when Manuel Margot stepped to the plate and took three straight strikes from Scherzer, including a called strike three on a 85.9-m.p.h. slider. The right-hander proceeded to strike out the side, then returned in the seventh to induce a final swinging strikeout from Ian Kinsler — bringing his career total to an impressive 2,503.

Scherzer is still ranked 35th on the all-time career strikeouts list and third on the active leaderboard behind Justin Verlander (2,752) and CC Sabathia (2,997). It’ll take him considerable time to move up or down on the active list; though the Mariners’ Félix Hernández (2,488) is verging on the 2,500 mark as well, he’s already far behind Scherzer’s strikeout total this year and unlikely to catch up to the veteran righty anytime soon.

As’s Sarah Langs pointed out on Friday night, Scherzer’s new strikeout total also granted him admission to another exclusive club. Per Elias Sports Bureau, he’s the third-fastest pitcher to get to 2,500 career strikeouts, accomplishing the feat in just 344 games over 12 major-league seasons. Only Hall of Fame hurlers Randy Johnson (2,500 strikeouts in 313 games) and Nolan Ryan (338 games) have done it faster.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

AP Images

Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.