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Saturday's Top 5: Max Scherzer's game of the year and the game of the year


1. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals. Scherzer put up an awesome performance in a 2-0 win over the Mets: No-hitter, 17 strikeouts, nine strikeouts in a row, one throwing error away from a perfect game. His Game Score of 104 was the second-highest in MLB history in a nine-inning game, he became just the sixth pitcher with two no-hitters in one season, and he just missed Tom Seaver's record of 10 consecutive K's. More on Scherzer's historic outing here.

By the way, what did Scherzer do Friday to get ready for his start?

2. The best game of 2015. Scherzer might have pitched the game of the year, but the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers played the game of the year. I listened to this one on the radio while driving home from New York and couldn't believe everything that happened. With the Rangers needing a win to clinch the AL West title and the Angels needing a win for their wild-card hopes, the two teams combined to use 18 pitchers (nine apiece), the fifth inning alone took about an hour to play, Josh Hamilton hit two home runs and, most improbable of all, the Angels rallied to score five runs in the top of the ninth inning to pull off a miraculous 11-10 victory. The Astros would beat the Diamondbacks later in the night, so the AL West title goes down to the final day of the season. The Rangers still clinch with a win, but they are now forced to start Cole Hamels. With a Rangers loss and Astros win, we would get a tiebreaker on Monday. With an Astros loss and Angels win, we would get a Monday tiebreaker to determine the second wild card.

Anyway, the most interesting aspect of the game was Rangers manager Jeff Banister's decision to go to closer Shawn Tolleson to close out the 10-6 lead. It was the fifth day in a row he pitched. Only two relievers had appeared in five games in a row all season. Considering the Rangers' four-run lead, that was a questionable decision. Of course, Banister had already run through five relievers up to that point, and if Tolleson had closed it out, the division would have been clinched and he could've rested until the Division Series starts Thursday. But the fatigue showed. Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun homered to start the inning, and Banister turned to Ross Ohlendorf, who had pitched 18.2 innings in the majors, for his first action since he had a 6.03 ERA from 2011-2013. He couldn't close it out, either. Albert Pujols reached on a one-out double when Rougned Odor and Mike Napoli collided, and the inning fell apart from there.

Now the Rangers head into Sunday with Tolleson possibly unavailable, Sam Dyson having appeared in five consecutive games and Keone Kela possibly unavailable after being unable to return for a second inning of work because of a tender elbow. As Jean-Jacques Taylor wrote, the Rangers absolutely need Cole Hamels to pitch deep into Sunday's game to save the bullpen not only for Sunday but also for a potential division tiebreaker Monday and a potential wild-card game Tuesday.

3. Houston Astros. The Rangers are feeling the heat because the Astros, so bad on the road all season, have now gone 4-1 on their final road trip after beating the Diamondbacks 6-2. Collin McHugh allowed one run in seven innings, and Colby Rasmus hit two home runs.

4. Can't anybody here clinch? The Rangers failed to clinch. The Blue Jays and Royals are still battling for home-field advantage in the AL. The Cubs still have a chance to catch the Pirates to host the wild-card game. The AL's second wild-card is still up for grabs. The only things decided Saturday: The Dodgers clinched home field for their series against the Mets -- Zack Greinke made his final exclamation point for the Cy Young Award, as he improved to 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA after allowing one run in eight innings of a 2-1 win over the Padres -- and the Twins were officially eliminated.

5. Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals. The likely Game 1 starter for the Royals, Ventura took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and struck out 11 in seven innings in the 5-1 win that knocked out the Twins. The Royals can clinch home field throughout the AL playoffs with a win or a Blue Jays loss Sunday.