ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Max Scherzer’s debut with the Texas Rangers ended up being one of his favorite kind of starts. For the AL West leaders, it’s the kind of results they hope to keep getting from the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
“You’re getting kind of beat around there in the early part of the game, but you settle in and you catch a rhythm and you’re able to pitch deep into a ballgame,” Scherzer said. “That’s what I’m most happy about, I finished strong.”
Scherzer struck out out nine over six innings, settling in after throwing 37 pitches in a three-run first, and the Rangers rallied to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-3 on Thursday to complete a three-game series sweep.
“He couldn’t have had worse luck there early. You know, every ball they hit found holes,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “But it just shows you how tough he is and what a great competitor he is. Logged a lot of pitches that first inning, but regrouped, reset.”
Mitch Garver led off the Rangers’ fourth against Touki Toussaint (1-4) with a 457-foot homer into the second deck of seats in left-center to tie the game at 3. Three batters later, Marcus Semien homered for the second game in a row, his 17th of the season, a solo shot that put Texas ahead to stay.
“That’s what’s fun, is when the whole team has kind of a hand in it,” Scherzer said. “Everybody kind of did their job today, and we won as a team.”
Will Smith worked the ninth for his 19th save in 21 chances after after Josh Sborz and Aroldis Chapman, the hard-throwing reliever acquired in a trade from Kansas City more than a month ago, worked scoreless innings.
Toussaint struck out nine and walked four in his 5 1/3 innings.
Tim Anderson and Andrew Benintendi both blooped opposite-field singles on 0-1 counts to open the game against Scherzer, who then got a strikeout before consecutive walks — the second to Yasmani Grandal to force in a run. Scherzer (10-4) then had another strikeout and an 0-2 count before Gavin Sheets grounded a two-run single up the middle to put the White Sox up 3-0.
Acquired from the New York Mets in a trade over the weekend and signed through next season, Scherzer allowed seven singles and walked two. He retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced, with seven of his strikeouts coming in that span. A week after his 39th birthday, he threw 70 of 105 pitches for strikes, with 21 of those swing-and-miss strikes.
“Typical experienced star that ends up giving up three runs in the first and kind of settles down and understands that he’s got to keep us right there and allow his team to come back,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said.
“I was in the dugout saying, don’t panic, you’re OK. They’re not blasting you, not hitting home runs, it’s not the execution of pitches. They’re just finding holes,” Scherzer said. “Just pitch and compete. And so it’s great when that happens.”
After Texas was retired on eight pitches in its first at-bat, Scherzer was right back on the mound. The White Sox then had three more singles in the second, though he benefitted from a double-play grounder and an inning-ending strikeout to prevent any more runs.
“Once he got comfortable, found his groove and, really started filling up the strike zone, it’s a huge difference,” said Garver, the catcher who also added an RBI single in the eighth. “He’s very passionate about what he does.”
Chicago has lost 18 of 24 games overall. The White Sox scored only one run combined in their previous three games before that three-run first inning. … Josh Smith had an RBI double in the second for Texas. Adolis Garcia extended his AL-leading RBI total to 86 with his single in the third.
TO THE PEN
With new additions Scherzer and left-hander Jordan Montgomery in the Rangers rotation, Bochy said lefty Martín Pérez (9-4. 4.98 ERA) will move into the bullpen as a long man. “Doesn’t mean that’s where he’s going to stay (in the bullpen), but first time around, that’s the plan,” Bochy said. When All-Star RHP Nathan Eovaldi (right forearm strain) returns from the 15-day IL, the Rangers will have decide whether to go with a six-man rotation or send another starter to the bullpen.
White Sox: CF Trayce Thompson (oblique strain), reacquired last week from the Dodgers in the trade that sent Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly to Los Angeles, was reinstated from the 60-day injured list and started in his return.
White Sox: RHP Mike Clevinger (4-4, 3.59) pitches against his former team in the opener of a three-game series at Cleveland.
Rangers: Montgomery, acquired Sunday from St. Louis, makes his Texas debut Friday night at home in a series opener against Miami. He was 6-9 with a 3.42 ERA in 21 starts for the last-place Cardinals.
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