MLB: Max Scherzer sharp in season debut, Rangers blank Royals

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Max Scherzer allowed just one hit over five innings in his 2024 season debut and Josh Smith homered for the second straight game as the Texas Rangers completed a three-game series sweep with a 4-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon in Arlington, Texas.

Scherzer (1-0) also moved into a tie with Greg Maddux for 11th place on the all-time strikeouts list with four on Sunday, giving him 3,371 for his career. The three-time Cy Young Award winner was making his first appearance since starting Game 3 of the World Series last year. He had surgery in December to repair a herniated disc and later experienced a nerve issue in his right thumb.

Scherzer didn’t issue any walks and retired the first 13 batters he faced before MJ Melendez lined a ground-rule double to right-center with one out in the fifth. Scherzer followed that at-bat by striking out Hunter Renfroe for his final strikeout of the game and then got Nelson Velazquez to ground out to end the inning.

Smith homered for the third time in five games, Leody Taveras went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a stolen base and Corey Seager and Nathaniel Lowe each had two hits for Texas, which tied its season-best winning streak with its fourth straight victory. Jose Urena took over for Scherzer and allowed one hit over the final four innings to pick up his first save of the year.

Alec Marsh (5-5) suffered the loss for Kansas City, allowing three runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out four. It marked the first time since March 30 and April 1 of 2023 against Minnesota that the Royals, who finished with a season-low two hits on Sunday, were shut out in back-to-back games.

Texas took a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning on an RBI double by Wyatt Langford and a two-run single by Taveras.

Smith made it 4-0 in the seventh when he led off with his seventh home run of the season, a 383-foot drive into the bleachers in right off reliever Sam Long.

–Field Level Media

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