5. Scherzer's encore: In his last two starts, a complete game shutout of the Milwaukee Brewers and a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals' right-hander Max Scherzer walked just one batter (0.50 BB/9) and struck out 26 (13.00 K/9). Those outings left the 30-year-old starter with a 1.76 ERA, a 1.97 FIP, 14 walks (1.23 BB/9) and 123 Ks (10.82 K/9) in 14 starts and 102 ⅓ IP this season, over which he's held opposing hitters to a combined .180/.216/.275 line.
"My last two starts," Scherzer told reporters after his no-hitter in the nation's capital, "this is some of the best baseball that I've thrown. The best pitching I've done. I just feel like I'm executing with all my pitches. I just continue to keep getting better. And it just shows you hard work pays off."
"Command in the zone, command out of the zone," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said when asked about what's been working for Scherzer.
"Throwing it where he needs to to get strikes, and then climbing the ladder, expanding when he needs to as well. We saw a lot of that in the last two starts that he's had."
Tonight, in Citizens Bank Park, Scherzer was taking on Phillies for the fourth time this season after going (2-0) with a 1.23 ERA in the first three outings with the Nationals' NL East rivals, in which he walked three (1.23 BB/9) and struck out 23 (9.41 K/9) while holding Philly hitters to a combined .173/.202/.235 line over 22 IP.
Scherzer retired the side in order in a six-pitch first. Two flyouts to center and a swinging K ended a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 second that left the Nats' starter at 15 pitches overall.
Cameron Rupp popped out to Tyler Moore in foul territory off first. Freddy Galvis grounded out to second base. Aaron Harang grounded out to short. Nine Phillies' hitters up and down. 10-pitch third, 25 total.
Odubel Herrera sent a weak roller to second on a 97 mph 3-2 fastball. Cesar Hernandez chased a 2-2 change into the dirt for Scherzer's third strikeout. Maikel Franco's groundout to short ended a 13-pitch frame that left Scherzer at 38 overall after four scoreless and hitless.
Ryan Howard lined out to center. Domonic Brown pushed Michael Taylor back to the track with a long fly ball that Taylor caught for out no.2. Cody Asche's groundout to second gave Scherzer 15 straight outs. 10-pitch frame, 48 overall.
Cameron Rupp K'd swinging at a 96 mph 3-2 fastball. Freddy Galvis doubled to right to end Max Scherzer's hitless inning streak at 16 ⅓ IP. A groundout by Darin Ruf and a swinging K from Odubel Herrera ended Scherzer's sixth scoreless though. 17-pitch frame, 65 total.
Cesar Hernandez doubled to left-center field to start the Phillies' seventh. Maikel Franco K'd chasing a 1-2 changeup into the dirt for out no.1 and Scherzer's 6th K. A wild pitch by Scherzer with Ryan Howard up allowed Hernandez to take third. Howard K'd on a 1-2 change that dropped out of the zone though. K no.7. Domonic Brown worked the count full in the next at bat and doubled to center to bring in the Phillies' first run, 5-1. Cody Asche stepped in with two out and reached on a dribbler toward the mound that Scherzer fielded before throwing late to first. Cameron Rupp's fly to left ended the threat after 28 pitches. 93 total.
Scherzer came back out for the eighth, and gave up a one-out home run to right by Ben Revere. 5-2. A groundout to first by Odubel Herrera and fly to right by Cesar Hernandez ended a seven-pitch frame.
• Max Scherzer's Line: 8.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 100 P, 71 S, 8/4 GO/FO.
4. Harang Time: In two starts against the Nationals this season, before tonight's, 37-year-old Phillies' right-hander Aaron Harang was (1-1) with a 3.75 ERA, four walks (3.00 BB/9) and eight Ks (6.00 K/9) in 12 innings, over which Nats' hitters put up a combined .292/.346/.438 line.
Those outings left the 14-year veteran (4-6) in 15 career starts against the franchise (Montreal/Washington) in which he's put up a 3.15 ERA in 88 ⅔ IP in which Nats' hitters put up a .282/.332/.451 line.
His last outing against the Nats, however, a loss in the nation's capital, started a six-start losing streak for Harang, who has posted a 6.06 ERA and a .261/.333/.507 line against in 35 ⅔ IP over that stretch, which has left him (4-9) with a 3.41 ERA, a 3.99 FIP, 25 walks (2.37 BB/9) and 67 Ks (6.35 K/9) in 15 starts and 95 IP so far this season in which opposing hitters have put up a combined .226/.288/.382 line.
Harang took the mound in Citizens Bank Park tonight trying to end the longest losing streak of his career and avoid becoming the first Phillies' starter since Omar Daal in 2000 to lose seven straight starts and gave up a leadoff double to center by Michael Taylor on the first pitch he threw. Yunel Escobar took a fastball off the hand one out later, and Taylor took third on a wild pitch to Wilson Ramos with two down, before scoring on an infield single when Phillies' second baseman Cesar Hernandez was interfered with by second base ump Jerry Meals while trying to make the play on a chopper that went over the mound off Harang's glove. 1-0 Nationals. 22-pitch first for Harang.
Tyler Moore singled to start the second and was bunted over by Max Scherzer one out later, but Michael Taylor K'd swinging to end a 12-pitch frame that left Harang at 34 total after two.
Dan Uggla walked with one down in the third, but was doubled up at second on a grounder off Clint Robinson's bat in an eight-pitch third by Harang, who was up to 42 total.
Ian Desmond lined a one-out single to left in the top of the fourth, but he was stranded at second two outs later as Harang completed a scoreless 10-pitch fourth at 52 pitches overall.
Max Scherzer singled, took second base on a wild pitch, third on a bunt by Michael Taylor and scored on a sac fly to center by Danny Espinosa, 2-0. Taylor scored two outs later when Domonic Brown dropped a line drive to right off of Wilson Ramos' bat. 3-0. 24-pitch frame, 76 total.
Tyler Moore lined a single to left to start the sixth and Matt den Dekker jacked an 0-1 changeup in the next at bat, sending a two-run blast out to right to make it 5-0 Nationals after five and a half. 16-pitch frame, 92 total.
• Aaron Harang's Line: 6.0 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 92 P, 62 S, 6/4 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: Phillies' manager Ryne Sanberg resigned this afternoon, leaving him (119-159) in two+ seasons on the bench since he took over for Charlie Manuel in 2013. "With some changes at the top looming, I did not want to be in the way of anything happening and progress going forward," Sandberg told reporters today, as quoted in an AP article on ESPN. Taking over on an interim basis is third base coach Peter Mackanin, who is in his second season as the third base coach and his sixth season with the club.
Pete Mackanin talks to the media about taking over as interim manager. pic.twitter.com/nVVPzuFEvq— Phillies (@Phillies) June 26, 2015
• Denard Span was originally penciled in atop the Nationals' lineup, but the back problems which have plagued him for several weeks now led to him being scratched an hour before the scheduled start time.
• Washington started the series in Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park on a six-game win streak, which was tied for the longest winning streak they've put together this season (May 15-22). The Phillies ended that winning streak with an 8-1 win in Nationals Park on May 23rd.
• The Nationals started the series with a 6-4 advantage over their NL East rivals in ten games so far this season in which they went 5-2 in D.C. and 1-2 in Philadelphia.
• Nats' starters were on a run of 41 ⅓ consecutive scoreless innings going into tonight's game, with Scherzer's nine scoreless against the Pirates in his no-hitter last Saturday contributing to he streak.
• Phillies' starters entered the series (1-12) in June with a 6.65 ERA in 113 ⅔ IP so far this month.
• Span was scratched, Anthony Rendon went on the DL today with a left quad issue, Bryce Harper sat with hamstring soreness and Yunel Escobar left after a half-inning after taking a fastball on the hand.
• When Max Scherzer completed a scoreless third, Nats' starters were up to 44 scoreless innings pitched, giving them the second longest such streak since in the expansion era, behind only the Baltimore Orioles who put together a stretch of 54 scoreless by their starters in 1974.
The 1974 Baltimore Orioles starting pitchers put together a 54-inning run that is the longest in the Expansion Era (since 1961).— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 26, 2015
2. Turning Point(s): Michael Taylor, leading off after Denard Span was scratched with a back issue, was swinging away, taking the first pitch of the game from Aaron Harang to center for a double and he scored from third on a Wilson Ramos chopper over the mound after moving up on a wild pitch when second base ump Jerry Meals interfered with Phillies' second baseman Cesar Hernandez. 1-0.
Max "DIY" Scherzer singled, moved up on a wild pitch, took third on a bunt single by Michael Taylor and scored on a sac fly by Danny Espinosa to make it 2-0 Nationals and an error on a two-out line drive to right by Wilson Ramos allowed Taylor to score. 3-0 after four and a half. It was 5-0 after Matt den Dekker hit a two-run blast to right in the sixth.
WATCH: You guys. Max Scherzer has a six-game hitting streak. http://t.co/151cseHX7m— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 27, 2015
1. The Wrap-Up: Philly right Jeanmar Gomez took over on the mound in the top of the seventh and retired the Nats in order. Gomez came back out in the eighth with another scoreless frame.
Phillies' lefty Elvis Araujo walked Danny Espinosa with two down, but completed a scoreless ninth.
Drew Storen came on for his second shot at save no.22. Ryan Howard singled to right with one down. Dom Brown sent a one-hop liner to a diving Tyler Moore at first. Cody Asche lined a single to center, but Brown got hung up off third, going through the stop sign and getting tagged out to end it. Philly fans do not like Dom Brown. Ballgame.
Nationals now 41-33