Scherzer 'shows how tough he is' in Rangers' debut

Trade Deadline addition shakes off 3-run 1st to strike out 9, earn quality start and win

August 3rd, 2023

ARLINGTON -- In some ways, couldn’t have asked for a better debut with the Texas Rangers. Things weren’t going his way early on Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Field, laboring through a three-run, 37-pitch first inning, but his day ended with a 5-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox and his teammates and manager praising his competitiveness.

It was the exact type of start that Scherzer described among his favorites, one where things aren’t going well but you find a way to battle back.

“You find out about yourself when things don’t break your way,” Scherzer said. “When they get some bleeding hits, they get some, for me, I got singled to death, had (56) pitches through two. It’s then, what do you do then? That’s when you find out who you are as a pitcher.”

Sitting at 56 pitches through the first two innings in his first start after being traded to the Rangers, Scherzer didn’t panic. The White Sox weren’t blistering the ball, but they were finding holes. The first inning featured a couple of bloop singles to start the game, costly back-to-back walks by Scherzer and a two-out, two-run single by Gavin Sheets. Sheets punched an 0-2 fastball through the left side of the infield off Scherzer.

Scherzer then had to work around three more singles in a 19-pitch scoreless second. However, he never got rattled.

As Scherzer put it, “It’s just part of the game. These are Major League hitters. They drive nice cars too. Sometimes they get bleeding hits, you can’t cry about it. You’ve just got to continue to do your job.”

Eventually, it turned. Scherzer had a 1-2-3, 10-pitch third inning, and then worked around a two-out single in another 10-pitch inning in the fourth. He closed out his day with 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and sixth.

Scherzer needed just 49 pitches to get through the final four innings, retiring 12 of 13 batters in that stretch.

“Typical experienced star that gives up three runs in the first and kind of settles down and understands that he has to keep us right there and allow his team to come back,” White Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “That’s what good starters do. He’s a great one. He walked a few guys in the first and after that he knows what kind of offense he has. His job is to keep us at three and let his offense get him back in the game. That’s what they did and that’s what he did."

Scherzer finished his day allowing three runs on seven hits with two walks and nine strikeouts over six innings. The nine strikeouts are the fifth-most ever by a Ranger in their debut and the most since Jamie Moyer had 13 strikeouts in 1989.

“He couldn’t have had worse luck there early,” Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. “It just shows you how tough he is and what a great competitor he is. A lot of pitches that first inning but he regrouped, reset and went out there. [He] gave us six solid innings. It was fun to watch him compete.”

Catcher Mitch Garver echoed those sentiments. Scherzer is known for his competitive spirit, and Garver was impressed seeing it first hand.

“He’s fiery,” Garver said. “He really likes to compete. He wants to win. You’ve got to respect that. You love having a guy like that on the mound.”

And, Scherzer saw the benefits of pitching behind MLB’s highest-scoring offense. Despite the early 3-0 hole, the Rangers were leading by the end of the fourth inning. They scored single runs in the second and third innings, and then had solo home runs by Garver and Marcus Semien in the fourth.

Garver added an insurance run with a single in the eighth.

In the end, it might not have been the script most aces would have chosen for their debut, but it fit what Scherzer is all about.

“Sometimes these are my favorite starts,” he said. “When you’re getting kind of beat around there in the early part of the game, but you settle in, catch a rhythm and are able to pitch deep into a ballgame.

“That’s what I’m most happy about, I finished strong.”