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Max Scherzer scratched from Game 5 of World Series; Joe Ross starts for Nationals

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Max Scherzer will not be starting Game 5 of the World Series tonight, as planned, after a neck issue led to the Nationals’ right-hander being scratched in favor of Joe Ross.

Davey Martinez started his pregame press conference tonight with a stunning, truly unexpected announcement:

“Before we get started, I want everybody to know that Max will not start today. He had -- yesterday he had a little bit of spasms in his right trap and neck. They treated it. He woke up today a lot worse.

“So Joe Ross will start today.”

For a competitor like Scherzer to have to bow out of a game this big, Martinez said, it had to be a serious issue.

“For Max to miss a game,” the manager assured reporters, “especially a significant game like this he’s got to be really hurt, so hopefully ... within the next 24 hours, as he starts getting better, we start seeing signs of him getting better and then we’ll go from there.”

With Scherzer unavailable, the Nationals are turning to Joe Ross, who started in Game 4 of the NLDS with the Dodgers and came on in relief in Game 3 of the World Series with the Houston Astros.

“He’s starting the game, we’re going to let him go as much as he can go,” Martinez said.

The second-year skipper tried to explain the series of events that led to the decision to scratch Scherzer just hours before the game.

“Today he woke up, right away he texted [trainer] Paul [Lessard] and said that he was really hurting,” Martinez said, “and if you all know Max, obviously he pitched with a broken nose, he’s been hurt before, he’s [fought] through things, and when he comes in and says that he’s hurt this bad, he’s hurt, and I can tell you now that he’s very upset, he wants to be out there with his teammates, but hopefully we can get him back here for either Game 6 of 7.”

It wasn’t a particular incident that caused the injury, Martinez explained, just a random thing.

“He said he woke up like that yesterday, and like I said, he spent all day getting treatment, and today, it just locked up.

“Just spasms, neck’s jacked up, he was in a bad place, and like I said, he’s really upset about it. Believe me, I’ve never seen Max this quiet. He’s very quiet.”

The reaction to the news from the rest of the team?

“I went around and I talked to a bunch of the boys, and explained what was going on, and they’re all upbeat, they said, hey, every one of them, they said, ‘We got this. We’ll pick him up.’ We’ve got Joe on the mound, and we’ll get them and hopefully he’ll come back and help us in Game 6-7.”