Scherzer exits with triceps issue, but Texas holds 2nd Wild Card

Righty set to undergo MRI exam on Wednesday as Rangers also inch closer to AL West lead

September 13th, 2023

TORONTO -- The Rangers did a million little things right, but 's premature exit was big enough to cast a shadow.

Following 5 1/3 innings of scoreless ball at Rogers Centre, Scherzer left the Rangers’ 6-3 win over the Blue Jays with a right triceps spasm. The victory moved Texas a half-game ahead of Toronto and Seattle for the second spot in the American League Wild Card race, and the Rangers also secured the season-series tiebreaker with the Blue Jays.

  • Games remaining: at TOR (2); at CLE (3); vs. BOS (3); vs. SEA (3); at LAA (3); at SEA (4)
  • Standings update: The Rangers (80-64) are a half-game up on the Blue Jays (80-65) and Mariners (80-65) for the second spot in the American League Wild Card race. Texas is one game behind Houston (82-64), which dropped a 6-2 decision to Oakland on Tuesday night, for the AL West lead.
  • Tiebreakers: Win vs. Toronto, Lead vs. Seattle.

Still, the main focus was on the Rangers’ ace’s exit and injury. The club didn’t have an immediate prognosis, but Scherzer was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Wednesday.

“[We] want to make sure that [we’re] not putting him at risk,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We did not want him to push through it. He said, ‘I’ll try to push through this’ and we said, ‘No.’ We were not going to take any chances there.”

There wasn’t much reason to take chances at that point.

With the Rangers sporting a three-run lead, Scherzer headed out for the sixth inning and felt some tightness in his right shoulder and upper arm. He grinded through a seven-pitch matchup with George Springer, finally getting the Blue Jays’ leadoff man to ground out for the first out of the frame.

But after delivering a curveball for a called strike one against Bo Bichette, a wincing Scherzer watched as catcher Jonah Heim walked to the mound, followed by Bochy, pitching coach Mike Maddux and a team trainer.

“It felt like a charley horse, that’s the best [description],” Scherzer said. “I was hoping that … I’ve had a cramping sensation before like that, and you kind of work it out, and you kind of go. But when I got to the mound and I was going through my motion, I could just tell that it didn’t release.”

Scherzer talked things over with the group and he attempted a couple warmup pitches, but Bochy’s mind was already made up by then. Scherzer, who had been dealing with forearm tightness over his past couple of starts, ended his night at 73 pitches, yielding three hits and one walk to go with two strikeouts.

The triceps issue is different from the right forearm tightness Scherzer has felt of late, but the right-hander postulated that there might be a connection, since tension and stress tend to travel through linked joints and muscles.

“It’s probably related, because it’s the kinetic chain,” Scherzer said. “That’s what's in my head. Because I had a tight forearm, [my] tricep area picks up more stress, and all of a sudden, you know, I can't handle it.”

Prior to the injury, this had all the makings of a vintage Scherzer outing -- a good bounce-back after he allowed seven earned runs over three innings in his previous start.

“It's too bad, because he really had good stuff,” Bochy said. “He was on top of his game. Good command, all four pitches were working for him.”

A lot more than that was working for the Rangers.

The bats continued their resurgence, led by Robbie Grossman’s two-run homer and Corey Seager’s 1,000th career hit (he later added Nos. 1,001 and 1,002 with a pair of doubles).

Meanwhile, Texas’ bullpen, a noted pressure point of late, got the job done. Save for a bumpy bottom of the seventh in which José Leclerc and Brock Burke yielded a pair of runs, the Rangers’ relievers held the Blue Jays in check, in large part due to Chris Stratton’s 1 1/3 scoreless frames.

“Outside of this injury, great win by the team,” Scherzer said. “That’s what we needed. We needed a good team win and we got it, especially with where we are in the standings.”

All the more reason to be careful with this triceps issue.

The Rangers have now secured the tiebreaker over the Blue Jays by taking the season series against the club. But with the recent struggles by Jordan Montgomery and Jon Gray -- as well as Nathan Eovaldi’s slow buildup back from a right forearm strain -- Texas can’t afford to be without Scherzer for any period of time.

For now, though, the Rangers will just worry about trying to make it five wins in a row on Wednesday.

“We ain’t dumb. That’s a good team over there,” Scherzer said. “So to come out here and get a win tonight, that’s big.”