|Max Scherzer: Dominates the Dodgers.|
Max Scherzer had what may have been the best outing of his young career Wednesday night as he beat the Los Angeles Dodgers and one of the better pitchers in the National League, Chad Billingsley, 4-1. Mad Max, a pitcher with incredible stuff but frequent bouts of inconsistency, was rock solid on Wednesday, pitching 7.2 innings and giving up only one run on seven hits. His four strikeouts was fewer than usual, but all that means is that he threw fewer pitches in more innings. Sure enough, Scherzer needed only 102 pitches to get deep into the eighth inning. He improved his record to 9-8 (really, not bad for a team that's 14 games under .500) and lowered his ERA to a bordering-on-respectable 4.10. Anyone who's been watching the 25-year-old Scherzer knows this kid has All-Star-type stuff and has the potential to be an excellent third man in the D-Backs' rotation in 2010.
Young first baseman Brandon Allen, playing in only his 11th game of his major-league career, broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning with a two-run homer of Billingsley. Catcher Miguel Montero (one of the real nice surprises on this team) had doubled with one out before Allen's second homer of the year. The D-Backs tacked on two more runs in the fifth on RBI singles by Stephen Drew and Gerardo Parra.
Even with the D-Backs' top run producer, Mark Reynolds, in a mini-slump (only one hit in this past 17 at-bats), the Snakes are getting the job done since Reynolds and Justin Upton returned to the lineup a little over a week ago. Wednesday's win was the sixth out of their past seven games. They're doing their best to play spoiler and, more importantly, build momentum as they head into the off-season, hungry for success in 2010, which doesn't seem out of the question when you consider a potentially big-time starting rotation and a solid core of young hitters in Reynolds, Upton, Stephen Drew, and Montero. When it's all said and done, you may be able to throw Ryan Roberts and Gerardo Parra into that mix.
Tonight, the four-game series with the Dodgers comes its conclusion with a chance for the D-Backs to take three of four from the suddenly not-so-invincible Dodgers. Also what makes tonight's series finale intriguing is the opposition's starting pitcher, a guy who was in the D-Backs' dugout as recently as Monday night: Jon Garland. He was traded, of course, to the Dodgers with minutes to go until the August 31 trading deadline, making him immediately eligible to be on the Dodgers' post-season roster. The veteran Garland has been anything but lights-out this year, but he has shown flashes of greatness. The D-Backs will counter with the guy who took Garland's roster spot, Billy Buckner. Here are the numbers:
Billy Buckner (2-5, 8.63 ERA) vs. Jon Garland (8-11, 4.29), 7:10 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR 620 AM. More info: www.dbacks.com