5. Mad Max vs the D-Backs: Washington Nationals' right-hander Max Scherzer bounced back from a rough-ish, five-inning, seven-hit, three-home run, five-run start against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the road in PNC Park with seven scoreless on the mound against the Miami Marlins last time out in a 1-0 win on the road in Marlins Park.
Scherzer finished the month of July (2-3) in six starts, with a 3.40 ERA, a 3.39 FIP, five walks (1.13 BB/9) and 42 Ks (9.53 K/9) in 39 ⅔ innings pitched, over which he held opposing hitters to a combined .229/.258/.396 line.
So what was different for Scherzer against the Marlins after the less-than-stellar outing against the Pirates?
"I don't know if there was anything different," Matt Williams told reporters in Miami. "He was aggressive. Fastball command was pretty good today both in and out, up when he needed it. Pitched well."
"He was aggressive all game," Nats' catcher Wilson Ramos said.
"Very good. He was aggressive all game like his normal approach every game. I know in the last start he struggled a little bit, but today totally different. He was aggressive and he did his job really well."
Scherzer ended the outing (11-8) on the year after 21 starts, with a 2.22 ERA, a 2.38 FIP, 19 walks (1.14 BB/9), 172 Ks (10.32 K/9) and a .191/.225/.311 line against in 150 IP.
At home in the nation's capital this season, Scherzer took the mound tonight with a (4-5) record in nine starts and 63 ⅓ IP over which he's put up a 2.70 ERA, a 2.31 FIP and a .200/.230/.315 line against.
Scherzer's start began with a leadoff bunt by D-Backs' outfielder Ender Inciarte, who was stranded at first three outs later at the end of an 11-pitch first.
Given a 3-0 lead to work with, Scherzer retired the Diamondbacks in order in a quick, 15-pitch second. 26 total after two.
Max Scherzer walked the opposing pitcher, Josh Collmenter, with one down in the third, but two outs later he was stranded at first. 15-pitch frame, 41 total after three.
After throwing a 2-2 slider by Paul Goldschmidt, Scherzer walked David Peralta with one out in the second and gave up a single to right by Mike Lamb that put runners on first and third with one down. Jarrod Saltalamacchia stepped in next and singled to right on a 3-1 change to drive in the D-Backs' first run. 3-1. Chris Owings doubled to left in the next at bat and the game was tied up at 3-3 with Owings on third.
Nick Ahmed took an eight-pitch walk from the Nationals' starter. Josh Collmenter K'd looking at a fastball outside after pulling back on a bunt attempt. Ender Inciarte K'd swinging at a 1-2 fastball to end a 40-pitch fourth. 81 total after four.
A groundout and back-to-back Ks gave Scherzer a relatively quick, 14-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth that left him at 95 pitches.
A 19-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth left Scherzer at 114 pitches.
• Max Scherzer's Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 9 Ks, 114 P, 76 S, 2/4 GO/FO.
4. Corbin vs the Nationals: Arizona Diamondbacks' left-hander Patrick Corbin returned from Tommy John surgery on July 4th with a five-inning start against the Colorado Rockies in which he gave up eight hits and two runs in his first major league outing since September 27, 2013 when he gave up six hits, two walks and five earned runs in a loss to the Washington Nationals.
In five outings since he returned to the mound in the majors, the 26-year-old southpaw went (2-3) before tonight with a 3.21 ERA, a 4.09 FIP, five walks (1.61 BB/9) and 29 Ks (9.32 K/9) in 28 IP, over which he's held opposing hitters to a combined .219/.270/.442 line.
"'It feels back to normal,'" Corbin told reporters, including AZCentral.com's Nick Piecoro, after the start against the Marlins last time out. "Arm is fine. The recovery is probably the biggest thing, but it's pretty much normal."
Back before he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow, Corbin was (1-1) in three career starts against the Nationals, with a 4.26 ERA, four walks (1.89 BB/9) and 20 Ks (9.47 K/9) in 19 IP against Washington, over which he put up a .224/.264/.388 line.
His fourth career start against the Nationals began with a solo home run to center field by Yunel Escobar, who hit a 1-1 fastball over the fence for a 1-0 lead. Anthony Rendon singled to center in the next at bat and took third on a double to right by Bryce Harper. Ryan Zimmerman stepped in and connected on the fourth straight hit, an RBI line drive to left that made it 2-0 Nationals, and Bryce Harper scored on a force at second off Jayson Werth's bat to make it 3-0. The Nationals loaded the bases with two down, but Max Scherzer grounded out to first on Corbin's 36th pitch.
Yunel Escobar was 2 for 2 tonight after a single to center in the bottom of the second. Bryce Harper took a one-out walk on the Corbin's 54th pitch, at which point Corbin was lifted...
• Patrick Corbin's Line: 1.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HR, 54 P, 34 S, 2/0 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: With last night's win, the Diamondbacks have won 7 of 9, 8 of 11 and 9 of their last 14 games.
• David Peralta went 2 for 4 with a home run last night. The D-Backs' outfielder has reached base in 17 of his last 18 games, going 23 for 65 over that stretch (.354 AVG) with three doubles, two triples and three home runs in his last 18 games.
• Arizona's four home runs last night were a season-high for the D-Backs.
• Brad Ziegler came on to earn the save after Daniel Hudson gave up four runs in the ninth, turning a 6-0 lead into a 6-4 game. Ziegler's save was his 17th straight converted opportunity.
• Wellington Castillo's 1 for 4 last night vs the Nats left him 36 for 115 in his last 35 games, over which he's hit nine doubles and nine home runs. He also has a .538 AVG (7 for 13 when swinging at the first pitch.
• The D-Backs defense isn't giving anything away this season. Their 44 defensive runs saved are the second-most in the majors, behind only the Royals, 47 DRS.
• Michael Taylor snapped an 0 for 13 stretch at the plate (over which he struck out nine times) with a single in his second at bat last night. His ninth inning double left him 24 for 60 (.400/.449/.617) with runners in scoring position this season.
• The Nationals' .583 winning % at home is the NL's fifth-best.
2. Turning Point(s): In the three-game sweep at the hands of the New York Mets this past weekend in Citi Field, the Nationals scored five runs total. After Yunel Escobar hit one out on a 1-1 fastball from D-Backs' starter Patrick Corbin in the first at bat of the bottom of the first inning today, Washington had five runs in the last two innings of play after they scored four in the ninth inning of their series-opening loss to Arizona last night. 1-0 Nats in the first on Escobar's 7th. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth followed with an RBI single and groundout, respectively, as the Nats jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one.
• Max Scherzer was cruising through three scoreless innings, but a one-out walk in the fourth started a D-Backs' rally with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia singling to drive in a run and scoring along with Jake Lamb on a one-out double to left field by Diamondbacks' second baseman Chris Owings. 3-3.
• It stayed tied until the eighth, when Ryan Zimmerman walked and took third on a double to left by Jayson Werth, and they both scored one out later on a blooper to right by Wilson Ramos. 5-3 Nationals.
1. The Wrap-Up: Josh Collmenter took over for Patrick Corbin with two on and one out in the second, and got a double play grounder out of Ryan Zimmerman with his second pitch.
Wilson Ramos singled with two down in the Nationals' third, but Michael Taylor lined out to left to strand the Nats' catcher at first. Max Scherzer walked to start the Nats' fourth, but was stranded three outs later. 2 ⅔ scoreless for Collmenter on 48 pitches. Still 3-3.
Collmenter set the Nats down in order in a 14-pitch fifth.
Andrew Chafin took over for Collmenter in the bottom of the sixth, and retired the Nationals in order.
Casey Janssen took over for the Nationals in the seventh and set the D-Backs down in order in a seven-pitch, six-strike frame.
Yunel Escobar walked to start the Nationals' half of the seventh inning, but he was doubled up on a line drive to first off Anthony Rendon's bat. Bryce Harper's flyout to right in the next at bat ended a quick frame by Chafin.
Drew Storen threw a nine-pitch, nine-strike, 1-2-3 top of the eighth.
Ryan Zimmerman took a leadoff walk from D-Backs' right-hander David Hernandez. Jayson Werth worked the count full and ripped a line drive double to the wall in left field. Ian Desmond stepped in with runners on second and third and no one out and grounded weakly to first. One down. Wilson Ramos stepped in with one down and sent an opposite field single to right to drive both runners in. 5-3 after eight.
Jonathan Papelbon came on in the ninth with a two-run lead and gave up a leadoff single to right by Jake Lamb.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia sent a fly to deep center for out no.1. ONE! Lamb (inexplicably) took second on the fly ball. Wellington Castillo grounded to short for out no.2. TWO!! Nick Ahmed sent a grounder to third for out no.--- Yunel Escobar sailed the throw. 5-4 Nationals. Cliff Pennington stepped in with the winning run on second and grounded back to the mound to end it. Ballgame. 5-4 Nationals.
Nationals now 55-50