No way around it - the Texas Rangers had no business starting Max Scherzer in Game 3

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In all, the highlights from Max Scherzer’s playoff debut for the Texas Rangers could fit on TikTok.

The plan was to have Scherzer throw approximately 70 pitches, and had that figure been reduced by about 60 or so the Rangers would have been just fine.

Scherzer was not ready for this, and the Rangers were a tad too overly optimistic to believe a pitcher who had not seen a live batter in more than a month was ready to handle the Houston Astros.

The Rangers return home to Globe Life Mall for Game 3 of the American League Championship Series did not according to plan, as the Astros toyed with Scherzer from the second inning on en route to an 8-5 win.

“Look, in these situations there is going to be some bad in this,” Scherzer said after the game. “I get it.”

Houston teed off Scherzer and turned the veteran ace into your standard nameless, 6.50 ERA pitcher.

The Rangers suffered their first loss of this postseason and lead this series 2-1; Game 4 is Thursday night in Arlington.

I asked Rangers manager Bruce Bochy if he had to do it over again if he would start Scherzer.

“Yeah, I’d do it again,” he said. “He was ready. He’s one of our guys. No regret on that.”

The “big” highlight during Scherzer’s appearance was the appearance of the four members of the band Creed, which in the last few weeks have enjoyed their unofficial status as the official rock ‘n’ roll band of the Texas Rangers. Maybe Scherzer was distracted with front man Scott Stapp and his three friends in the house.

The better explanation is that Scherzer needed at least one appearance before returning to the mound. If it’s the regular season, maybe the Rangers give Scherzer a rehab start in the minors, or one or two innings of relief in a lopsided game.

There is no time for such pleasure-cruise antics this deep in the playoffs.

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Max Scherzer didn’t have it in his first appearance in more than a month as he took the loss in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros on Wednesday night in Arlington.
Texas Rangers starting pitcher Max Scherzer didn’t have it in his first appearance in more than a month as he took the loss in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Houston Astros on Wednesday night in Arlington.

Before Wednesday night’s loss, Scherzer’s last start was Sept. 12. He left in the sixth inning of that start against Toronto due to a strain in his upper right arm that needed about one month of rest, but nothing more.

After lobbying Bochy for weeks, Scherzer was put on the Rangers’ roster for the ALCS.

“He looked good in the bullpen and in warmups,” Rangers catcher Jonah Heim said of Scherzer. “He just made a couple of mistakes.”

Against Houston, Scherzer never really had it but for the first 10 pitches. He looked sharp in the first inning where he retired three straight batters, including a strikeout of outfielder Michael Brantley.

That ends the Scherzer’s highlights.

In four innings, Scherzer five runs on five hits with one walk, four strikeouts, one hit batter, one wild pitch, and he allowed a home run to Jose Altuve. But, at least he didn’t bean the mascot.

His location and velocity were OK, but his slider didn’t have much bite.

“I made some mistakes. I get it. I got punished for it, but there were some good things I also did as well,” Scherzer said. “In general I thought I located the ball pretty well for a four-week layoff. But this is the postseason. There’s no excuses. You either win or you lose. And tonight we lost.”

That was Scherzer’s second-worst start since coming to the Rangers at the trade deadline in a deal with the New York Mets. In his eight previous starts with the Rangers, his least-effective outing was Sep. 6 when he allowed seven runs in three innings against ... the Houston Astros.

This ALCS was never going be a broom fest. The Astros team that won the American League West with one of the best road records in baseball appeared on Wednesday night.

The Astros are now 20-11 all-time at Globe Life Mall, including a 7-1 record here this season. This continues the trend where the Astros lose at home, but win on the road.

“Strangest thing I’ve ever seen,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said after the game.

Had the Astros lost on Wednesday night, they were dead. They played like a team that knew its season was on the fringe of the first tee box.

The Rangers did make things interesting, thanks mostly to a pair of home runs from third baseman Josh Jung. Don’t want to forget the spectacular over-the-wall catch from Leody Taveras to rob Yordan Alvarez of a long ball.

The Rangers had their chances, and didn’t score enough for a pitching staff that trotted out six pitchers. The starter gave up five, the bullpen allowed 3, which is a great way to lose a playoff game.

Starting Scherzer in a game of this weight was always a risk, and Bochy had the breathing room to try.

When you’re starting pitcher can fit all of his game highlights on TikTok, you know that risk didn’t work.