Tuesday, September 25, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Nationals' Max Scherzer excited for NLDS Game 5 start against Dodgers

WASHINGTON — For two seasons, Max Scherzer has performed as advertised for the Nationals. He has thrown two no-hitters. He has struck out 20 in one outing. He has taken the ball every fifth day with a crazed vigor unlike any other pitcher in baseball. He has been a premier workhouse worthy of the richest contract in franchise history, the best pitcher on one of the sport's best starting rotations.

But tonight's winner-take-all Game 5 is why the Nationals shocked the industry two winters ago and added Scherzer to their already robust collection of starting pitchers. He is a bulldog. He is big-game dealer. And he will get the ball with the season on the line Park against the Dodgers.

"This is probably the biggest start of my career," Scherzer said. "Biggest start of my life."

It is also perhaps the biggest game in Nationals history. The franchise has played one other high-stakes National League Division Series Game 5 since moving to Washington, against the Cardinals in 2012. The bullpen collapsed in a 9-7 loss at Nationals Park. It was a gut-wrenching defeat, but it was the Nationals' first playoff appearance — and a somewhat surprising breakthrough at that.

A steady stream of opportunities for deep October runs appeared imminent with the team's talented core; the delicate handling of Stephen Strasburg was corroboration. Four years later, sustained regular-season success has yet to produce a playoff series victory.

Gio Gonzalez started that Game 5 in 2012 because Strasburg had been shut down. He was one of the NL's best pitchers that season, but he isn't Scherzer, who led the majors in strikeouts and the league in innings pitched and is in contention for his second Cy Young Award.

"You're never really comfortable until the game is over," said Manager Dusty Baker, who has lost eight straight playoff games with a chance to advance. "But we do have Max."

Scherzer will not oppose Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who started Game 4 Tuesday. The Dodgers will instead have Game 2 starter Rich Hill on short rest.

"Doesn't matter. You're going to get their absolute best," Scherzer said.

Late Tuesday: Cubs stun Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Kris Bryant tossed his glove high in the air, Jake Arrieta jumped over the dugout railing and the rest of the Cubs rushed to join them.

Pure revelry and a sigh of relief, all at once.

World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs took another step in their championship chase by rallying for four runs in the ninth inning of Game 4 to beat San Francisco 6-5 and win their NL Division Series.

"You could see it coming. You could see little signs. We've done it before and the guys, we don't quit," Cubs centerfielder Dexter Fowler said. "It's a little more special doing it here. They for sure were thinking that they won it. But we play 27 outs and we don't give up until we win."

The team that went a majors-best 103-58 open the NL Championship Series at home Saturday.

"Expectations is a good word. Because normally it means that you have something good attached to it at the other side," manager Joe Maddon said.

PADRES: Mike Dee is out as team president, less than a month after general manager A.J. Preller was given a monthlong suspension for withholding medical information from trade partners.

Comments
Already playing well, Rays’ Tommy Pham promises more

Already playing well, Rays’ Tommy Pham promises more

ST. PETERSBURGTommy Pham has been doing some impressive things for the Rays since coming off the DL after coming over from the Cardinals in a July 31 trade.Like hitting .357 in 32 games, posting a 1.087 OPS and reaching base in a career-best 27 strai...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Tuesday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Tuesday’s Rays-Yankees game

LHP Jalen Beeks didn't make a good showing with his pitching, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks over 32/3 innings and throwing 65 pitches to do so. But he did open eyes with a running, sliding catch of a pop-up near the Rays dugout.Manag...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, with Faria on the hill

For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, with Faria on the hill

UPDATE, 5:47: Expect LHP Jalen Beeks to pitch tonight after Faria.UPDATE, 5;45: Longtime Rays minor-league pitching guru Dick Bosman to retire, has been with organization since 2001. Pitched parts of 11 seasons in majors, threw no-hitter for Indians ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: Sound familiar? Yankees make Monday a ‘Bullpen Day’

Rays journal: Sound familiar? Yankees make Monday a ‘Bullpen Day’

ST. PETERSBURG — In an effort to line up their pitching staff for the postseason, the Yankees stole a page out of the Rays playbook Monday night. New York designated the game  a "bullpen day" and did it ever use its bullpen.RHP Jonathan Ho...
Published: 09/25/18
Playoffs gone but goals aren’t for Rays to finish season

Playoffs gone but goals aren’t for Rays to finish season

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' postseason hopes, as unlikely as they had seemed, officially ended with Monday's 4-1 loss to the Yankees, manager Kevin Cash speaking for many saying they should be proud of what they did.And that doesn't mean they do...
Published: 09/25/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Monday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Monday’s Rays-Yankees game

LHP Ryan Yarbrough wasn't horrible, but he wasn't fooling anybody as the Yankees scored three in his five innings, rapping five hits, including four doubles. Yarbrough, who hadn't lost since July 21 and has a rookie-high 15 wins, also walked two, hit...
Published: 09/24/18
Updated: 09/25/18
For starters: Kevin Kiermaier out of lineup as Rays host Yankees

For starters: Kevin Kiermaier out of lineup as Rays host Yankees

Rays centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier is out of the starting lineup tonight against the Yankees with a sore shoulder. He will be available if needed.The same goes for SS Willy Adames, who was held out Sunday due to illlness. Mallex Smith takes over...
Published: 09/24/18
Snell wins No. 21 as Rays beat Blue Jays 5-2

Snell wins No. 21 as Rays beat Blue Jays 5-2

TORONTO — Blake Snell doesn't look like he can be stopped.He pitched again for the Rays in Sunday's 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays, he dominated again and he won again.That's both a major-league-leading and team-record-breaking 21st victory for...
Published: 09/23/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Blue Jays game

Part of what makes LHP Blake Snell so good is his deep, high-quality repertoire, having four above-average pitches, which is more than most. When fastball command isn't sharp, he can still beat you with an assortment of top-notch curves, sliders and ...
Published: 09/23/18
Rays journal: Teammates come through for Blake Snell

Rays journal: Teammates come through for Blake Snell

TORONTO — LHP Blake Snell knows he is the one getting all the attention for the remarkable season he has compiled, but he wants to make sure his teammates get some of the credit."It's cool that it's under my name,'' Snell said, "but it's all of...
Published: 09/23/18