5. Scherzer in rubber match: After a complete game shutout on the road in Milwaukee in which he allowed one hit and a no-hitter the next time he took the mound, in the nation's capital against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Nationals' right-hander Max Scherzer's eight-inning outing against the Philadelphia Phillies last time out, which saw him give up five hits and two earned runs, was... disappointing? Not really.
Washington's 30-year-old ace did take a bid for a perfect game into the sixth before giving up a hit, of course, and Scherzer earned his third straight win and his eighth in his last ten starts.
"He was good again," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the 5-2 win in Citizens Bank Park. "Really efficient early.
"They were aggressive early too, so his count was really good going into the later innings in the game, so I thought he was really good again."
"I felt good," Scherzer told reporters in Philadelphia.
"Was pounding the zone. Again, another outing with no walks. That's what you pride yourself on, just attacking the zone. Defense made some good plays, and I was just in sync with [Wilson Ramos] again."
In his last three starts, the right-hander is (3-0) with a 0.69 ERA, one walk (0.35 BB/9) and 33 Ks (11.42 K/9) in 26 IP over which he's held opposing hitters to a .071/.093/.143 line.
Tonight in Turner Field, Scherzer was facing the Braves for the first time this season and the first time since 2010.
Be sure to tune into MASN tonight at 7:10pm. @Max_Scherzer is must-see TV! #Nats pic.twitter.com/Udd2zx8ef9— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 2, 2015
Scherzer's outing began with a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 first in which he recorded two Ks.
After a flyout to foul territory in left by A.J. Pierzynski, Juan Uribe chased a 1-2 curve out of the zone for Scherzer's 4th K and the second out of the Braves' second. Kelly Johnson stepped in with two down and grounded out to third to end a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 second. 23 total after two.
Eury Perez singled to center on an 0-1 fastball for the Braves' first hit of the game with one down in the home-half of the third and took second on a sac bunt by Manny Banuelos, but he was stranded when Jace Peterson popped out to center to end an 11-pitch frame. 34 total after three.
Time for @Max_Scherzer to go to work! #MadMax pic.twitter.com/Bbjo1aEPsX— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 2, 2015
A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth left Scherzer at 46 total after four scoreless.
Juan Uribe doubled to left on an 85 mph 1-2 change down and inside from Scherzer in the first at bat of the Braves' fifth, and scored one out later on an RBI single to center by Andrelton Simmons. 1-0. Simmons was caught stealing for out no.2 and Eury Perez popped to first to end a 18-pitch frame. 64 total.
Scherzer struck out the side in a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth that left him at 75 pitches overall with seven Ks.
A nine-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh left Scherzer at 84 pitches.
Scherzer came back out for the eighth and retired the side in order, striking out two for nine Ks overall. 13-pitch frame, 97 total.
That's eight strong for @Max_Scherzer; 9 K. The 4th straight start he's thrown 8.0 IP or more! #MadMax #LikeABoss pic.twitter.com/oRxhmMGadJ— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 3, 2015
With the score still tied at 1-1 after eight and a half, Scherzer took the mound in the ninth and gave up an infield single on a chopper to short by Pedro Ciriaco, who took second on a sac bunt by Jace Peterson. Cameron Maybin stepped in next and hit a chopper over third for a walk-off single.
• Max Scherzer's Line: 8.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 9 Ks, 105 P, 79 S, 6/6 GO/FO.
4. Banuelos Debuts: The Atlanta Braves traded right-handed reliever David Carpenter, currently in the Washington Nationals' bullpen, to the New York Yankees along with reliever Chasen Shreve in a January 1, 2015 trade that brought back 24-year-old lefty Manny Banuelos.
WATCH as @ManBanuelos picks up his 1st career strikeout: http://t.co/3u6L8z0ffh pic.twitter.com/9UTkcxb8eO— #VoteBraves (@Braves) July 2, 2015
A top prospect in the Yankees' organization, who was ranked as high as no.29 on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list in 2012, before he underwent Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2013 campaign, Banuelos got off to a strong start in the Braves' system this year, going (6-2) with a 2.29 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 38 walks (4.14 BB/9) and 69 Ks (7.51 K/9) in 82 ⅔ IP before he was called up to make tonight's start in the series finale with the Nats.
"'We got good reports,'" Fredi Gonzalez told MLB.com's Mark Bowman after Banuelos was officially announced as tonight's starter. "'He mixes his pitches well. I'm looking forward to it.'"
In ten minor league starts this season, the left-hander allowed one earned run or less.
Tonight in Turner Field, in his major league debut, Banuelos gave up a leadoff single to left field by Denard Span, who stole his 10th base in 10 chances this season as Yunel Escobar K'd swinging for the second out of the frame.
Bryce Harper stepped in with two down and a runner in scoring position and two out and worked the count full before striking out on a 3-2 change. 18-pitch frame.
Wilson Ramos singled to start the second, but Dan Uggla grounded into a 5-4-3 in the next AB. Tyler Moore came up with two out and lined out to short to end a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 second that left Banuelos at 30 total after two.
A 14-pitch, 1-2-3 third ended with Denard Span watching a 90 mph 3-2 fastball all the way in for a called strike three and the fourth K of the game for Banuelos. 44 total after three scoreless.
Bryce Harper worked the count full again with two out and the bases empty in the top of the fourth, and chased a filthy curve out of the zone. 10-pitch frame, 54 total. 6 Ks for Banuelos.
An eight-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth gave Banuelos 11-straight outs after five scoreless frames. He picked up another K too, 7 Ks, 62 pitches total.
Given a 1-0 lead to work with, Banuelos retired the first two batters in the sixth before hitting Denard Span with a changeup up high inside. Span stole second with Danny Espinosa up (11 for 11) and Espinosa got hit too, putting two on with two out. That was it for Banuelos, who left the game after a meeting with manager Fredi Gonzalez and the Braves' trainer...
• Manny Banuelos' Line: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 75 P, 48 S, 5/1 GO/FO.
Another beautiful evening at The Ted. pic.twitter.com/jiltaNLqAc— #VoteBraves (@Braves) July 3, 2015
3. Random Game Notes: Manny Banuelos, who was given no.60, was making his his major league debut tonight in Atlanta, becoming the third member of the Braves' starting staff to make his big league debut after Williams Perez and Matt Wisler.
Welcome to the bigs @ManBanuelos! pic.twitter.com/MqC9KqAFwC— #VoteBraves (@Braves) July 2, 2015
• The Braves' win over the Nationals last night snapped a nine-game losing streak to their NL East rivals going back to a win in the first game of the season between the two teams.
• Cameron Maybin's stolen base with Doug Fister on the mound last night was the first stolen base against Fister in his time in the Nationals' rotation and the first in 40 starts by the veteran right-hander.
• Since June 21, 2014 (for fun with arbitrary end points) the Washington Nationals are 16-6 against the Atlanta Braves, and they've won all three series with the Braves this season, sweeping two.
• Before he gave up a run in the seventh in his start against the Phillies last time out, Max Scherzer was up to 24 straight scoreless innings on the mound.
• The Braves, as a team, have the second-highest average with runners in scoring position in the NL, at .288, behind only the Coloraro Rockies (.302).
One more here in the ATL if the weather cooperates. Then we're comin' home, DC! pic.twitter.com/CRKiEIE4SP— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 2, 2015
• Denard Span and Michael Taylor extended their on-base streaks, Span to 21 games, Taylor to 17-straight. Span singled to left in his first at bat to give him 22 straight games. Taylor doubled to start the eighth and give himself an 18-game on-base streak.
2. Turning Point(s): Max Scherzer gave up a leadoff double on a changeup near Juan Uribe's ankles inside, but the changeup he threw to Andrelton Simmons one out later was up in the zone and Simmons lined it to center for an RBI single that made it 1-0 Braves after five in Turner Field.
• Cameron Maybin tracked Bryce Harper's line drive to center to his left and made a sliding attempt at a catch, but had it pop out of his glove as he slid and of course, Harper came around to score in the next at bat when Wilson Ramos went the other way for an RBI single to right field. 1-1 after six and a half.
1. The Wrap-Up: Nick Masset took over on the mound for Manny Banuelos with two on and two out in the Nationals' sixth and Yunel Escobar up and got out no.3 on a low liner to third that Juan Uribe handled.
David Aardsma gave up a line drive to center by Bryce Harper in the first at bat of the seventh that Cameron Maybin got to but dropped. Scored a double for Harper, no.18 of 2015. Wilson Ramos stepped in with a runner in scoring position and singled to right to tie it up at 1-1. Dan Uggla K'd on a check swing after failing to get down a bunt and Tyler Moore grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3.
Michael Taylor singled to right off Jim Johnson to start the top of the eighth. Max Scherzer worked the count full trying to get a bunt down and took a called third strike after he squared again. Denard Span lined out to center for out no.2 and Danny Espinosa sent a chopper to second for out no.3.
#FireUpTheGrilli pic.twitter.com/wG5UjWcrEJ— #VoteBraves (@Braves) July 3, 2015
Jason Grilli came out for the top of the ninth inning with the score still tied at 1-1 and set the Nationals down in order... and the Braves walked off on a Cameron Maybin single in the bottom of the inning.
Nationals now 43-36