Who’s Your Padre? Mad Max

Every season as Spring Training comes to a close the Diamondbacks players all get together and decide on one pitcher that they will withhold all support from whether it be offensively, defensively, or from a bullpen perspective. I’m of course being facetious or at least I think I am. Historically if we look back you could probably make a strong case that my comment was a fact. How else do you explain the lack of support that the team gave to Randy Johnson or before that Brian Anderson? This year’s candidate for most unloved would have to be Max Scherzer.

Coming up through the minor leagues everyone raved at the talent that Max Scherzer possessed and how he was destined to become a dominating pitcher in the major leagues. After his debut last season against the Houston Astros where he struck out 7 batters over 4 1/3 innings of work and retired a record 13 hitters, expectations were high for the young fireball pitcher. The Diamondbacks obviously liked what they saw and put Max into the starting rotation. It was at that moment that the other players must have held an emergency meeting and anointed Scherzer with the support cold shoulder. For the remainder of the 2008 season Scherzer went winless despite pitching well in most of his outings.

After the 2008 season the Arizona Diamondbacks announced that Scherzer would remain in the starting rotation and his fate was sealed as the poster child for non-support. Max began the 2009 season similarly to how he ended 2008. He pitched well enough to win but either the bullpen or the offense would find a way to blow a lead making sure Scherzer either got the loss or a no decision. In a brief lapse of focus in Atlanta on May 16, the Diamondbacks forgot who was on the mound and scored a season high 12 runs allowing Max to get his first major league win. The team quickly regrouped and went back to providing no support to Scherzer in his next start in Florida. To add insult to injury the Diamondbacks waited until Max left the game then scored late allowing rookie Clay Zavada to get the win in just his first major league appearance.

Going into last night’s game against the San Diego Padres, Max Scherzer was again looking for only his second win of his major league career. Max has been working on pitch conservation and it showed last night. He mowed through the Padres line up collecting not only strikeouts but also inducing the Padres hitters into swinging early in the count getting quick outs allowing him to stay in the game longer. Over the first six innings Max had struck out 10 San Diego hitters and walking none. He was throwing a 4-hit shutout and was dominating his opponent. The problem of course was that his teammates were likewise being shut-out leaving the game in doubt. It looked like another strong outing would go by the wayside and Scherzer would again be without a decision. Max was determined not to let that happen so with bat in hand he led the Diamondbacks offense collecting 2 hits including an RBI double that gave his team the lead. When it looked as though Max would single-handedly win the game the rest of the offense came alive and scored 6 runs giving Scherzer a 6-0 lead. Since the offense had let the team down by giving the Diamondbacks what looked like an insurmountable lead; the bullpen came in to rectify the problem. They gave up buckets of runs in the 8th and 9th innings and it looked as though for the second day in a row the Diamondbacks would lose the game in a late inning implosion. Finally in the top of the 9th with the tying run just 90 feet away center fielder Chris Young ran down what looked like a double to the right center gap to end the game and give Max just his second win in his career. From the looks of how this season is playing out he shouldn’t get too comfortable though chances are his next start will see the offense fail to deliver leaving it up to him to win the game all by himself. Here’s hoping that Max can talk his teammates into choosing someone else to not support. He has too much talent to deserve this.

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