5. Scherzer's Turn: Through five starts with the Washington Nationals, Max Scherzer, who signed a 7-year/$210M free agent deal this winter, had a 1.26 ERA, a 1.88 FIP, five walks (1.26 BB/9) and 39 Ks (9.84 K/9) in 35 ⅔... and he was (1-3).
Wins, as a stat, were clearly, once again, misrepresentative.
Last time out on the mound, this past Friday in New York, the Nats' 30-year-old starter went head-to-head with Mets' righty Matt Harvey and came out on the losing end in spite of the fact that he gave up just one run on five hits in 7 IP, over which he struck out ten.
Scherzer was happy with the outing as a whole, though Michael Cuddyer did manage to power one 94 mph fastball out to right-center for an opposite field blast.
Overall, the Nats' starter said after the game, that he put together a solid start and was able to make the necessary adjustments throughout.
"I was just using fastballs when I wanted to," Scherzer said. "I had an idea of what I wanted to do. You can have a game plan, but you have to go out there and kind of see how they're reacting. I thought I elevated my fastball very well tonight and was able to generate some swings and misses on that. I also thought there [were] times that I was able to take my offspeed out of the zone for effect as well. From an overall standpoint I did a good job of mixing and matching when I went hard and when I went soft."
The home run by Cuddyer was the first Scherzer's allowed this season, leaving him with 0.25 HR/9 so far, good for the second-lowest HR/9 in the NL early this season. The 10 Ks left him tied for fifth in the National League in K/9.
His opponents' OBP after five starts was the third lowest in the NL, as was his slugging percentage against (.258) and his .189 BAA was the seventh-lowest amongst National League starters.
This afternoon, in the series finale in the nation's capital, he was making second career start against the Marlins, and the first against the "Miami" Marlins, who were the "Florida" Marlins the last time he faced them in 2009.
Scherzer's sixth start of the season began with a scoreless 13-pitch first in which he pitched around a one-out single by Martin Prado, striking Marcell Ozuna out with a 2-2 slider outside to end the frame.
Justin Bour and J.T. Realmuto hit a single and double, respectively, in the first two at bats of the Marlins' second and Ichiro Suzuki took the first pitch he saw to left for an RBI single and a 1-0 Miami lead.
Adeiny Hechavarria singled through short for an RBI single of his own to make it, 2-0, but Tom Koehler bunted into a 3-6-4 DP on a nice play and throw by Ryan Zimmerman. Ichiro took third on the DP, but was stranded there when Dee Gordon K'd swinging through a 94 mph 2-2 fastball to end a 15-pitch frame that left Scherzer at 28 total after two innings.
Scherzer popped up Prado, struck out Stanton with an 0-2 slider in the dirt outside and got Ozuna swinging with a 1-2 fastball up high to end a 12-pitch frame at 40 total after three.
Given a 4-2 lead to work with, Scherzer caught Justin Bour looking with a 96 mph 3-2 fastball knee-high outside for the first out of the fourth, and got a foul-tip strike three from J.T. Realmuto with a 95 mph fastball on the other outside edge for out no.2 and K no.6. Ichiro Suzuki stepped in with two out and grounded out to second. Eight straight Fish set down for Scherzer, 20-pitch frame, 60 total after four.
Adeiny Hechavarria, fly to right, and Tom Koehler, swinging K, were the ninth and tenth-straight Marlins set down by Scherzer. Dee Gordon came up with the bases empty and two outs and sent a single to left to end Scherzer's streak. Martin Prado popped to short right and Danny Espinosa, blinded by the sun, let it drop in after flinching at the last second. Giancarlo Stanton stepped in with two on and two out and...popped out on a 2-0 slider. 16-pitch frame. 76 total after five.
With the Nats up 5-2 following Bryce Harper's third home run of the game, Scherzer set the Marlins down in order in a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth that left him at 86 overall.
A 15-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh left him at 101 pitches. The two Ks Scherzer added gave him 10 total.
Scherzer came back out for the eighth and gave up a leadoff single to right by Dee Gordon. Martin Prado singled to right too to put two on for Giancarlo Stanton... who battled for nine pitches and crushed a 3-2 slider, hitting a three-run home run out to left that ended Scherzer's outing and made it 7-5.
• Scherzer's Line: 7.0 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 114 P, 82 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
The line on Max Scherzer today: 7 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 10 K -- 114 pitches, 82 strikes. pic.twitter.com/CzDlhZWVxV— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 6, 2015
4. Koehler vs the Nationals: Marlins' starter Tom Koehler held the Nationals scoreless over 7 ⅓ IP when he faced the defending NL East champions last week in Miami, in an 8-0 win, giving up six hits and a walk while striking out four.
That start left the 28-year-old right-hander (3-3) in six career appearances against the Nationals, over which he put up a 3.22 ERA, 17 walks (4.21 BB/9) and 19 Ks (4.71 BB/9) in 36 ⅓ innings pitched, with a .219/.315/.375 line against in those outings.
Koehler, who throws a fastball that averages 91.9 mph, a two-seamer at 92, a knuckle curve that he throws at around 75-79 mph, a slider that averages 86.4 and a changeup he throws on occasion, had everything working in Marlins Park.
"He had good curveball command," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the loss. "Threw some changeups. Good sliders. Threw a couple of them to [Ryan Zimmerman], one to Jayson [Werth] to strike him out. So he was right on.
"He was on. Elevated when he needed to. He had all of them working today."
Koehler matched up against Stephen Strasburg in that outing, but this afternoon in the nation's capital he went head to head with Nats' starter Max Scherzer.
He took the mound with a (2-2) record in five starts this season, a 4.67 ERA, 4.82 FIP, 10 walks (3.33 BB/9) and 18 Ks (6.00 K/9) in 27 IP.
Koehler completed his eighth scoreless inning against the Nats this season after just eight pitches, working around a one-out error by Martin Prado when Yunel Escobar grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 in the next AB.
Bryce Harper hit an 0-1 fastball to left in the first at bat of the second, sending it into the left field bullpen for a solo home run that cut the Marlins' lead in half, 2-1. Wilson Ramos doubled one out later, but Koehler struck out Danny Espinosa and walked Michael Taylor to get to Max Scherzer, then popped the opposing pitcher up to end a 20-pitch frame that left him at 28 total after two.
Denard Span doubled to left to start the Nats' third. Ian Desmond worked the count full in the nine-pitch at bat that followed and popped to short center where Marcell Ozuna lost it and let it drop. Yunel Escobar battled for seven pitches in the next at bat and sent a sac fly to left, 2-2, and Bryce Harper took a 93 mph 0-1 fastball to right for a two-run blast that landed in the upper deck. 4-2 Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman hit a broken-bat single to center for the fourth hit of the inning, but he was stranded two outs later. 31-pitch frame. 59 total.
Koehler retired the side in order in a 14-pitch fourth the left him at 73 pitches and he set the first two Nats' batters down in the fifth before Bryce Harper stepped up again and took an 0-1 slider for a ride. Upper deck again! No.3 today, no.8 of 2015. 5-2 Nats. 15-pitch frame for Koehler. 88 total.
The Nationals went down in order in the sixth. The 10-pitch frame left Koehler at 98 overall.
• Tom Koehler's Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 3 HR, 98 P, 64 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
3. KEY MATCHUP - $210M man vs $325M man: With their 2-1 win last night in Washington, D.C., Miami improved to 4-1 against the defending NL East champs this season. And the Marlins split the first two games of the first series in Nationals Park this season without much of a contribution from genuine Nats-killer, Giancarlo Stanton, who went just 1 for 8 with a single, two walks and two Ks in the first two games.
In spite of the fact that the Nationals' pitchers managed to keep Stanton down in the first two games of the three-game set in Nationals Park, the 25-year-old, '07 2nd Round pick still took the field today in the series finale as the visiting player with the most home runs in the Nats' home with 14 homers in 37 games.
He also had 14 doubles and a .324/.417/.727 career line in 163 plate appearances in the nation's capital.
Stanton hadn't, however, ever faced Max Scherzer before. The first matchup between the Nationals' $210M pitcher and the Marlins' $325M outfielder took place in the top of the first inning...
• Scherzer vs Stanton no.1: With a runner on and one out after a Martin Prado single with one down, Stanton popped Stanton up with a 92 mph 1-0 fastball. Stanton 0 for 1 vs Scherzer.
• Scherzer vs Stanton no.2.: A first-pitch slider got Scherzer ahead 0-1 in the second at bat vs Stanton with one out and no one on in the third. He chased an 0-2 slider outside after fouling off an 0-1 fastball. 0 for 2 vs Scherzer.
• Scherzer vs Stanton no.3: Stanton stepped up with two on and two out in the fifth, but popped up over the infield on a 2-0 slider that brought him to his knees. 0 for 3 today, 1 for 11 in the series.
• Scherzer vs Stanton no.4: Scherzer gave up back-to-back singles to bring Stanton up with two on and no one out in the eighth. 95 for a swinging strike. Slider outside, Stanton chases, 0-2. Fastball up high outside, 1-2. Back to the slider? Stanton spits on it. 2-2. Front door slider.. Stri--- nope. 3-2. Slider up high, fouled off. Foul, fastball at 96. Foul again, 96 again. Slider... gone. 7-5 Nats after Stanton's three-run blast to left field.
2. Turning Point(s): The Marlins scored two runs on four hits in the top of the second, and they had two runners on, first and second, with no one out when pitcher Tom Koehler stepped to the plate. Koehler dropped a bunt down the first base line, but Ryan Zimmerman jumped on it and made a spinning throw to second to start a 3-6-4 DP that got Max Scherzer two outs. A swinging K from Dee Gordon ended the frame and Scherzer, with Zimmerman's help, limited the damage. 2-0 Fish after one and a half.
Make that 2-1, after Bryce Harper hit an 0-1 fastball out to left in the bottom of the second. It was Harper's 6th of 2015.
Harper's 7th was a two-run blast to right that reached the upper deck, as the Nationals rallied to take a 4-2 lead in the third. Harper's homer followed a sac fly to left by Yunel Escobar, who brought Denard Span in from third after Span's leadoff double and a blooper to center by Ian Desmond that fell in front of a sliding Marcell Ozuna.
#Nationals Bryce Harper has his 6th multi-HR game. Others with 6 or more at his current age: Ott Mattthews Jones Horner Strawberry DiMaggio— Ace of MLB Stats (@AceballStats) May 6, 2015
Harper's 8th HR landed in the upper deck in right too. Unreal. 5-2 Nats after five.
The Nationals added two more in the bottom of the seventh inning with Yunel Escobar (RBI single) and Harper (RBI groundout) driving in runs, which ended up being important when Giancarlo Stanton hit a three-run blast in the top of the eighth.
1. The Wrap-Up: Sam Dyson took over for the Marlins in the bottom of the seventh inning and gave up back-to-back one-out singles after striking out Max Scherzer. Span and Desmond singled in consecutive at bats, and Yunel Escobar made it three straight hits with an RBI single to center that brought Span in. 6-2. An RBI groundout by Bryce Harper brought Desmond in, 7-2.
Tanner Roark took over with no one on and no one out in the Marlins' eighth after Giancarlo Stanton took a 3-2 slider from Max Scherzer deep to left for a three-run blast that made it 7-5 Nats. Justin Bour and and J.T. Realmuto hit back-to-back, one-out singles to bring Ichiro up with two on. A 1-2 curve in the dirt got Ichiro swinging for out no.1. Adeiny Hechavarria grounded into a force at third, 7-5 Nats after seven and a half.
Bryan Morris completed a scoreless bottom of the eighth.
Drew Storen came on for the save in the ninth Donovan Solano took a fastball on the hand and took his base. Dee Gordon singled to left. Two on, no outs. Martin Prado poppped out to short right. Giancarlo Stanton? Swinging K on a 1-2 slider. Marcell Ozuna? 0-2 slider, swinging K!! BALLGAME!!!
Nationals now 14-15