As major league debuts go, it does not get much better than Max Scherzer's on Tuesday night.
Scherzer retired all 13 batters he faced in a relief role against Houston, although he did not enter in time to prevent the Diamondbacks' 6-4 loss.
Against one of the best lineups in the NL, Scherzer struck out seven while featuring a fastball that topped out at 98 mph and reached 96 mph in each of his five innings. The Astros did not put a ball into fair territory until their sixth hitter, and got only one ball out of the infield, a lazy fly to left field by pitcher Tim Byrdak.
Scherzer's first five outs were strikeout, foul out, strikeout, strikeout, strikeout, strikeout #3 coming on on a 1-2 changeup to Miguel Tejada after hitting 98 mph on an inside fastball with the previous pitch.
"Once he got through that first hitter, it was lights out. Literally. We talked about his fastball. Pretty electric," manager Bob Melvin said.
"It was relieving," said Scherzer, who was recalled Sunday after going 0-0 with a 1.17 ERA in four starts at Class AAA Tucson, striking out 38 and walking three in 23 innings. "I was so prepared to finally make my major league debut. I was just happy to get out there and get it out of the way."
Scherzer, 23, entered in the third inning Tuesday to replace Edgar Gonzalez, who gave up six runs in 2 2/3 innings. That spot in the rotation comes up again Monday.
"We'll take a look at it later," Melvin said after the game.
Astros 6, Diamondbacks 4: Houston jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, and Arizona was unable to make it all the way back. Conor Jackson's two-run homer was the offensive highlight for the Diamondbacks, who managed just seven total hits off five Astros pitchers. Former Diamondbacks closer Jose Valverde got the save by striking out three of the four batters he faced in the ninth inning.
- RHP Max Scherzer was perfect in his major league debut, retiring all 13 batters he faced while striking out seven in a 6-4 loss to Houston on Tuesday. Scherzer entered in the third inning and needed only 45 pitches to record his 13 outs. "Once he got through that first hitter, it was lights out. Literally. We talked about his fastball. Pretty electric," manager Bob Melvin said. Scherzer was consistently between 95 and 97 MPH with his fastball - twice touching 98 against Miguel Tejada, while his secondary pitches ranged from 83 to 87 MPH.
- LF Eric Byrnes (hamstring) did not start Tuesday, the third time in six games he did not start, but he pinch-hit in the ninth inning and will play Wednesday, manager Bob Melvin said. Byrnes has been plagued by hamstring issues in both legs since the start of spring training. "He's better, but (Wednesday) is a day game, and I don't want to give him two days in a row off because he likes to keep some continuity to his swing," manager Bob Melvin said, "so we'll give him the night game off. We'll try to be cautious."
- RHP Micah Owings threw a normal 55-pitch bullpen session early Tuesday, and he will make his scheduled start Friday. He was removed from his Saturday start after suffering a sprained ankle when he landed awkwardly on second base after a double, but he said Tuesday he felt just a little restriction where his right ankle was taped. "He has three more days, and by then he'll be fairly close to 100 percent," manager Bob Melvin said. Owings is 4-0 with a 3.48 ERA and four quality starts.
- 1B Conor Jackson has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, hitting .353 with three doubles, two triples and two home runs after homering Tuesday. He is hitting .435 with runners in scoring position, and has done all that while making contact -– he is the fourth-hardest to strike out in the NL, averaging one strikeout every 16 plate appearances.
- 1B/3B Chad Tracy (knee) had two hits including a home run in six at-bats as a DH in an extended spring training game Monday and was to play again Tuesday. His next step will be to play at Class AAA Tucson. "We'll move him along when we think he's ready to go out and play" at least half a game, manager Bob Melvin said.
- LHP Doug Davis began his radiation iodine treatment Tuesday, 19 days after his cancerous thyroid was removed.
By The Numbers: 17-5—The Diamondbacks' record in a 22-game stretch against the NL West that concluded April 27.
Quote To Note: "Every game counts. We'll take it. It's a 22-game block, more than a quarter of our games in the division. To do well is important. But some teams that were off to great starts last year didn't get to October, so we are not overestimating what happens. But it is good to win games in your division."
—General manager Josh Byrnes, on the D-backs' 17-5 record against the NL West.
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