Game 7 awaits Astros and Nationals


October 30, 2019 - 10:26 AM

Max Scherzercelebrates after geting out of a bases loaded jam against the Dodgers in the 7th inning in Game 4 of the NLDS. WALLY SKALIJ/LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS

HOUSTON (AP) — This is Max Scherzer’s shot.

Hurting so much over the weekend that it seemed his season might be over, Mad Max instead gets the ball for a final time — in Game 7 of the World Series.

“That’s what you live for,” the Washington Nationals ace said.

Baseball fans, same thing.

A matchup devoid of late-inning drama that’s threatening to set a record low for television ratings has suddenly turned into must-see TV.

“Maybe not how we drew it up in terms of how we got there, but it doesn’t take away the opportunity we have to win the World Series,” Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch said.

Zack Greinke, acquired by Houston in late July for exactly these situations, starts Wednesday night for the Astros.

“A little excited about it at the moment, but we’ll see,” Greinke said.

The wild-card Nationals, trying to rewrite franchise history with their first championship. The 107-win Astros, aiming to build a legacy by taking their second crown in three years.

A pair of teams that began spring training under sunny skies in February, working out side-by-side in the complex they share in Florida, now meeting in late October under the retractable roof at Minute Maid Park for the biggest prize of all.

So what to expect from Scherzer?

Unable to pitch Game 5 on Sunday night because of nerve irritation near his neck that required an injection, the three-time Cy Young Award winner is set to start this all-or-nothing showdown.

“The cortisone shot worked. That relieved the pressure on the nerve,” Scherzer said.

“Everybody has the belief in me and the doctors that I could get right and be ready,” he said.

Scherzer tossed in the outfield before Game 6 — a 7-2 win by the Nationals — and even loosened up in the bullpen in the seventh inning Tuesday night.

“Max is starting tomorrow,” manager Dave Martinez said. “We got him up knowing that if the game is tied or we were up a run we might have to use him. He wanted to go down there and just throw and get loose. We scored some more runs and I immediately shut him down.”

Whether the Game 1 winner, known for his incredible intensity, will be able to cut loose at full force, we’ll soon see.

“We don’t know if he’s healthy or not. We’re going to find out in the first inning,” Astros star Carlos Correa said.

If Scherzer returns and wins, it might well go down in sports lore, along with Curt Schilling’s bloody sock, Kirk Gibson hobbling around the bases and the night Willis Reed limped back on the court at Madison Square Garden.

“They’d probably make a movie about it. I bet, if he could, he could come back from the dead,” teammate Adam Eaton said.

The Nationals rallied to extend the only World Series where the road team has taken the six first games. So much for the home-field advantage.

“Doesn’t look like there is one right now, but I hope there’s one tomorrow. We’re waiting until the last game to have it on our side,” Hinch said.

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