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Max Scherzer, Texas Rangers let the Astros right back in ALCS

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We might still be looking for an actually decent game in these playoffs, but at least we might get a series. The Rangers apparently didn’t learn that when you have the Astros down, it’s best to get that stake right through the heart instead of playing with your food. The Astros beat up Max Scherzer, and Texas couldn’t quite mount a comeback as their bullpen couldn’t hold Houston in place long enough, and fell 8-5 to make the series 2-1. Now the Astros get a look at Andrew Heaney and the rest of the Rangers bullpen to make it 2-2 and flip this all around.

Scherzer — who gave up five runs in four innings — complained that he couldn’t really control his slider after a month off and not even a rehab start to make anywhere since he skulked off the mound in Toronto. Bruce Bochy probably should have had more of a hair-trigger, as this wasn’t MAX SCHERZER taking the mound but a greatly diminished version.

“He’s going to be a little rusty overall,” Bochy said. “I was really pleased with his stuff. It’s only going to get better. … He feels good, that’s what’s important.”

But the truth is Scherzer’s slider hasn’t been much of a weapon all season.

It lost velocity, down below 84 MPH all season. The previous year it was 85 MPH or above. Hitters slugged .545 off it this year, double what it was the previous three two seasons. It hasn’t been a pitch he could count on in 2023.

And so was the case on Wednesday, where he got one whiff on it, and the average exit velocity off of it was 96.7 MPH. Scherzer’s fastball wasn’t bailing him out either, as both Martin Maldonado’s two-run single in the first and Jose Altuve’s homer in the next inning were off fastballs he couldn’t get by them. Which is what happens when you’re old and haven’t pitched in a month.

And now the Astros are alive. Past Heaney, they’ll get a second look at Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi, which is what the key was last season when they got second looks at Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, beating them both and overcoming a 2-1 World Series deficit. Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander might not be what they were last season, but who’s betting against them a second time?

Shouldn’t have let them off the mat, Rangers. Now we might all pay.

Get rid of the phrase ‘Girl Dad’

Someone should tell the Phoenix Mercury to dig up, stupid:

First off, the whole “girl dad” hashtag or phrase needs to be put away forever. Men shouldn’t get points for being proud of being fathers to girls when they were supposed to be the whole time. And don’t forget that thing didn’t become a thing until Kobe Bryant died, which is kind of a dumbass impetus for millions of men to suddenly discover that they’re suddenly proud of the girls in their family. It’s not revelatory to love and parent your children.

Secondly, the Mercury are already up against it for hiring a coach who’s never been involved in women’s basketball, and whether they meant to or not putting the “girl dad” in this introductory article makes it seem like being a parent of daughters somehow qualifies him to be a coach in the WNBA. Especially when it’s put right next to “coach” and “player,” which generally are qualifications.

Going the wrong way there, Phoenix.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate and on Bluesky @Felsgate.bsky.social



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