5. Scherzer takes New York: Max Scherzer had a five-start winning streak snapped last time out when he lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the nation's capital. Scherzer gave up six hits and four runs, all earned and all on two home runs by Jays' outfielder Kevin Pillar, in six innings pitched in which he walked two, struck out five and threw 101 pitches overall.
"A couple of swings of the bat and it's a different story," Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams said.
"Pillar accounted for their first four runs, so he gets those two outs there it's a completely different game, but that's the way baseball goes sometimes. But he's not going to change the way he goes about it, he'll go battle and most of the time he's really good."
Over the course of his unbeaten streak, Scherzer put up a 1.75 ERA, five walks (1.25 BB/9) and 46 Ks (11.50 K/9) in 36 IP, in which he held opposing hitters to a combined .207/.236/.311 line.
On the year, after the loss, the 30-year-old right-hander was (6-4) in eleven starts with a 1.85 ERA, a 2.16 FIP, 12 walks (1.39 BB/9), 90 Ks (10.43 K/9) and a .202/.305/.543 line against in 77 ⅔ IP.
Scherzer said that he'd move on from the outing against the Jays like he did every other start and try to learn from it.
"No matter what," he explained, "you always have to flush it out and always look at the positives and you're going to have things to work on even when you have good starts, so this is just one game, I got beat, and you just go back out there with the mentality that you're going to win the next one."
In his twelfth start of 2015, Scherzer was facing the Yankees for the seventh time in his career, after going (4-2) with a 3.79 ERA and .265/.353/.449 line against in 35 ⅔ IP in the previous six outings.
Scherzer retired the Yankees in order in a 13-pitch first that ended with Alex Rodriguez swinging over an 0-2 slider.
Brian McCann lined a 2-2 curve on the outside edge out to left-center field for a one-out double in the Yankees' half of the second, but he was stranded there two outs later when Scherzer completed his second scoreless. 20-pitch frame, 33 total after two.
Stephen Drew took a 95 mph 2-2 fastball for ride in the first at bat of the Yankees' third, hitting a solo shot to right to make it 1-0 NY. First homer by a lefty off Scherzer this season. Drew's eighth. Scherzer walked Brett Gardner with one out, but stranded him at the end of a 17-pitch third, 50 total.
With the score tied at 1-1 after three and a half, Scherzer threw a quick, scoreless 13-pitch fourth, working around a two-out single to left by Carlos Beltran. 63 total.
Ramon Flores lined a single to left with one down in the fifth, but he was stranded on the basepaths two outs later as Scherzer completed a 15-pitch frame at 78 pitches overall.
Mark Teixeira doubled through the shift with one down in the Yankees' sixth, and took third on a sliced single to left-center by Brian McCann. Carlos Beltran lined one to center in the next at bat, but Michael Taylor made a sliding attempt (and what looked like a catch), that was ruled a hit, so Taylor threw in to second for a force on McCann, who never left first. Teixeira never left third either. 8-4-6 force. Didi Gregorius stepped in with two on and two out and went down swinging at a 2-2 changeup. 22-pitch sixth, 100 pitches overall.
Ramon Flores lined an 0-1 change to left for a one-out single in the bottom of the eighth. Brett Gardner followed with a soft liner to left in the next at bat. Chase Headley stepped up with two on and one out and lined out to right for out no.2 on Scherzer's 115th pitch of the night. Alex Rodriguez came up two down and sent a grounder to short. Ian Desmond dove to make the play, but threw by the third base bag, allowing a run to score when it bounced off Flores and skipped into the dugout. 2-1 Yankees when Flores scores. Scherzer was done there.
• Max Scherzer's Line: 6.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 116 P, 79 S, 5/6 GO/FO.
4. Tanaka Time: Masahiro Tanaka was placed on the DL after four starts in April with right wrist tendinitis and a right forearm strain, but he returned to the mound on June 3rd with a solid outing against the Seattle Mariners in which he struck out nine in seven innings of work in which he gave up just three hits and one earned run.
Tanaka vs. Scherzer, at Yankee Stadium NOW. Play ball! pic.twitter.com/me4iT3rhha— New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 9, 2015
Over his last three outings, after he gave up nine hits and nine runs, seven earned, in his first two starts this season, the 26-year-old right-hander was (2-0) with a 0.89 ERA, two walks (0.89 BB/9) and 23 Ks (10.18 K/9) in 20 ⅓ IP over which he held opposing hitters to a combined .119/.143/.224 line.
As the Yankees' pregame notes on tonight's games mentioned, Tanaka's 174 Ks (9.14 K/9) through 25 starts were the eighth-most by a major league pitcher since 1914, and he was also one of only six pitchers since 1914 to win at least sixteen of his first 25 major league starts, joining Mel Stottlemyre (1964-65) as the two Yankees' starters on that list.
Tanaka signed a 7-year/$155M contract with the Yankees after seven seasons with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball's Pacific League in which he was (99-35) with a 2.30 ERA in 1,315 IP.
He entered tonight's start with a (3-1) record, a 2.76 ERA, a 2.47 FIP, seven walks (2.15 BB/9) and 33 Ks (10.13 K/9) in 29 ⅓ IP this season, over which he had a .165/.214/.301 line against.
Tanaka's outing began with a 21-pitch, 1-2-3 opening frame. He retired the Nats in order in the second as well, in an 11-pitch inning. 32 total. The Yankees' starter collected two Ks on his way to another 1-2-3 frame in the third. Three scoreless on 45 pitches after a 13-pitch third.
Yunel Escobar singled to start the fourth with the Nationals' first hit, but Tanaka got a grounder to short and a 6-4-3 DP out of Anthony Rendon. Bryce Harper got hold of a 1-0 sinker in his two-out at bat and hit it out to center field to tie things up at 1-1. Harper's 20th. Seven-pitch fourth for Tanaka, but 1-1 after three and a half. 52 total.
Tanaka needed 13 pitches to retire the Nationals in order in the fifth, leaving him at 65 pitches overall after five.
The Yankees' starter got two outs with two pitches to the first two hitters in the sixth, but gave up a two-out double to left on a 1-0 slider to Yunel Escobar. Anthony Rendon grounded out to the mound in the next at bat, however, and Tanaka was through six on 71 pitches after a six-pitch frame.
Clint Robinson singled to center with two out in the sixth, and Wilson Ramos sent a grounder through right side, but Ian Desmond hit a flyout to center to end a scoreless frame. 16-pitch seventh for Tanaka, 87 pitches overall.
• Masahiro Tanaka's Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 87 P, 63 S, 9/4 GO/FO.
Welcome to Yankee Stadium! Time to stretch it out! pic.twitter.com/CXehx5QwWb— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 9, 2015
3. Revenge?: The New York Yankees dropped both games they played in Nationals Park last month, falling to 5-6 overall against Washington since the Montreal Expos became the Nationals.
As the Yankees' pregame notes mentioned, they'd held the Nationals to three runs or fewer in eight of the last nine games before tonight's matchup in Yankee Stadium, where the Nats took two of the only three games the two teams played in the Bronx Bombers' newest home back in 2009.
The Yankees entered the series on a roll, having won six straight in back-to-back series sweeps of both the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels and seven of their last ten overall, while the Nationals were trying to avoid losing their third straight and their ninth in the last eleven.
Could the Yankees win the first of two in their home and give themselves a chance for the series split with their seventh straight win? Or could the Nationals take the season series with their third win in four games?
• It was the Yankees tonight, 5-1 final. Seven straight wins for New York. Three straight losses for Washington.
2. Turning Point(s): After a solo home run by Stephen Drew in the bottom of the third, Bryce Harper got hold of a 1-0 fastball from Masahiro Tanaka and hit a towering blast out to center field in Yankee Stadium to tie things up at 1-1 with his 20th HR of 2015.
• Back-to-back one-out hits in the Yankees' half of the sixth, a double by Mark Teixeira and a single to left by Brian McCann, put runners on the corners with one out, but an odd play kept it tied. Carlos Beltran lined to center and though it looked like Michael Taylor made a sliding catch, it was ruled a hit, but neither runner knew what to do, so McCann was forced out at second on the throw in and Teixeira was stranded at third one out later in what remained a 1-1 game.
• It wasn't really a "turning point" uh, per se, but what was Bryce Harper doing trying to bunt with two strikes in the Nats' seventh?
• An actual turning point in the seventh gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Ramon Flores and Brett Gardner singled with one down, but Max Scherzer got a lineout to right from Chase Headley with his 115th pitch for out no.2, and got a grounder to short from A-Rod in the next at bat, but Ian Desmond, after making a diving play, popped up and threw to third, only to have it bounce off Flores and into the third base dugout, allowing a run to score. 2-1.
1. The Wrap-Up: Brian McCann hit a two-run single to right off Matt Thornton to make it 4-1 Yankees. Carlos Beltran hit an RBI single to bring Mark Teixeira in and make it a 5-1 game.
Dellin Betances took over for New York in the eighth, and threw a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.
Stephen Drew hit his second home run of the game out to right off Taylor Hill to make it 6-1 Yankees after eight.
Chasen Shreve came on to wrap it up, but was lifted after he gave up a double to left by Bryce Harper, and a two-out walk to Clint Robinson. Andrew Miller came out to get out no.3. 6-1 Yankees.
Nationals now 30-28