Max Scherzer hit a ground ball to short with Danny Espinosa on second after a leadoff double in the fifth inning of Thursday's series finale with the St. Louis Cardinals. Scherzer hustled down the line, but was initially called out. A review of the play reversed it, however, and he was ruled safe.
Scherzer hustled around to third on an RBI single by Denard Span in the next at bat, but was eventually stranded there.
The 30-year-old right-hander, who signed a 7-year/$210M deal with the Washington Nationals this winter, remained in the game, but gave up the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth, and after a scoreless frame in the seventh, with his spot in the order due up second, he was lifted after having thrown just 82 pitches in an efficient outing.
After the game, Nats' skipper Matt Williams was asked about the decision to hit for Scherzer, who worked through some trouble in the first, but was rolling and just over eighty pitches.
"He could have gone further," Williams said. "When he hit that baseball [in the fifth] it jammed him just a touch. He felt it a little in his right hand, but he gutted through it."
"He jammed himself a little bit swinging," the second-year skipper explained.
"So he came in and said, 'Hey, you know, I'm not where I want to be. I'm not controlling my pitches the way I want to control them. So that being said, we decided to go with the hitter there anyway. As it ended up it didn't matter, but nonetheless he wasn't comfortable out there pitching, so if you are not comfortable out there pitching, then there's no reason for him to hit there."
"It was one of those situations where it was smart to come out," Scherzer told reporters.
"My spot was coming up in the order and we were down. So it was kind of just a little bit of everything. Use a little caution and try to get a chance to get a real stick in there and try to get a run or two."
Williams provided an update before last night's series opener in Miami, telling reporters, including MASN's Chris Johnson, that swelling developed overnight.
"'We're treating him aggressively,'" Williams said. "'Looking to get him into a bullpen - a normal rest bullpen and a normal rest game, but we'll have to make sure the swelling gets out of there beforehand.'"
When he met with the press before this afternoon's matchup with the Marlins, Williams provided the following update, which included the news that Scherzer wasn't able to get his scheduled bullpen session in today:
Scherzer's thumb is still swollen. Would normally throw a bullpen today, will try Sun. instead. As of now, can still start Tuesday— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) April 25, 2015
Williams said they're waiting for Scherzer's swelling to subside because don't want him to throw, adjust, cause problems by compensating.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) April 25, 2015
Matt Williams says Max Scherzer will try to get his bullpen in tomorrow but must throw before his next scheduled start on Tuesday. #Nats— Chris Johnson (@masnCJ) April 25, 2015
Scherzer's R thumb still swollen, didn't throw standard bullpen today. Will try again tomorrow. Needs to throw before scheduled start Tues.— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) April 25, 2015