San Francisco Chronicle

⏩ MLB notes: Max Scherzer is the epitome of efficiency.


Amid the standing ovation for his 3,000th career strikeout, Max Scherzer paused on the mound. He doffed his cap, tossed the ball to the dugout, and got back to work.

Mr. Efficiency, indeed. No time to waste when it’s September, your new team is in a playoff race, and there’s a job to finish.

Scherzer struck out Eric Hosmer in the fifth inning to reach the milestone in the Dodgers’ 8-0 win over San Diego in Los Angeles on Sunday.

“Everybody can have the ability to do this,” Scherzer said, “but few have the durability to do this.”

While becoming the 19th pitcher in the 3,000strikeo­ut club, Scherzer came five outs shy of the Dodgers’ second perfect game. He would have put his name next to Sandy Koufax, who did it Sept. 9, 1965.

Scherzer did equal Koufax in one regard. Scherzer had an immaculate inning in the second, striking out the side on nine pitches. It was the third of his career, tying Koufax and Chris Sale as the only pitchers with that many.

“You want to go out and finish it,” he said. “That was pretty cool.”

At 37, Scherzer still possesses the velocity, pitch mix and competitiv­e fire that has propelled his major-league career. He touched the mid-90s against the Padres, throwing back-toback fastballs to Trent Grisham that registered 97 and 98 mph in the fourth inning.

“I expect nothing less from him,” teammate Mookie Betts said.

The defending World Series champion Dodgers were already loaded when they picked up Scherzer at the July trade deadline, along with his Washington teammate Trea Turner.

Led by 17-game winner Julio Urias, 14-game winner Walker Buehler and now Scherzer, pitching has carried the offense-starved Dodgers for much of the season despite injuries that have led to numerous bullpen games.

Clayton Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner like Scherzer, returned to the rotation Monday. He has been out two months with left forearm inflammati­on.

With the Dodgers, Scherzer hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past 292⁄3 innings and is 6-0 with an 0.88 ERA, the lowest for a pitcher in his first eight starts with a team since the statistic became official in baseball in 1913. Overall, Scherzer has won 10 in a row — not having lost since May 30 at Milwaukee — and is 14-4 for the season. His 2.17 ERA leads the majors and he has 218 strikeouts in 27 starts.

“I can’t imagine it being any better than this, especially where we are in the season,” manager Dave Roberts said.

Where the Dodgers are is 21⁄2 games behind the NL West-leading Giants as of Monday morning with 18 games remaining in pursuit of a ninth straight division title.

Scherzer has avoided major injuries during his 14-year career, which has allowed him to pile up big numbers. He had six straight seasons of 200plus innings pitched from 2013 through ’18 with Detroit and Washington. He made at least 30 starts in 10 consecutiv­e seasons ending in 2018.

“I’m a big believer in the best ability is availabili­ty,” Roberts said. “There are a lot of guys who are talented who can’t stand the test of time. Guys can go out there and have a couple of great seasons, but to do that year after year when guys are gunning for you, that’s tough to do.”

Scherzer credits pitching coach Mark Prior and catchers Will Smith and Austin Barnes for his success in Los Angeles.

“They understand how I like to sequence and throw different pitches in different counts,” he said.

Scherzer won a World Series with the Nationals in 2019. He’s an eighttime All-Star and is in contention, along with Urias and Buehler, to add a fourth Cy Young to his resume.

“Hopefully, I go out there and keep pitching,” he said, “and keep dreaming up more things to do.”

Briefly: Gleyber Torres is being moved back to second base from shortstop by the Yankees . ... Boston activated reliever Hirokazu Sawamura from the COVID-19 injured list and returned left-handed pitcher Austin Davis from the paternity list.

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 ?? Michael B. Thomas / Getty Images ?? Max Scherzer has pitched for four teams and has three Cy Young Awards and one World Series title.
Michael B. Thomas / Getty Images Max Scherzer has pitched for four teams and has three Cy Young Awards and one World Series title.

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