5. Scherzer vs the Rockies: In four second-half outings before today's, 31-year-old Washington Nationals' ace Max Scherzer was (1-1) with a 3.38 ERA, a 3.14 FIP, eight walks (3.00 BB/9) and 31 Ks (11.63 K/9) in 24 innings pitched, over which he's held opposing hitters from the Dodgers, Pirates, Marlins and D-Backs to a combined .236/.299/.360 line. This afternoon in the nation's capital, he was facing the Colorado Rockies for the sixth time in his career.
In the previous five outings, the veteran of eight major league seasons was (1-3) with a 3.99 ERA, eight walks (2.45 BB/9), 37 Ks (11.35 K/9) and a .263/.312/.491 line against in 29 ⅓ innings pitched.
Scherzer was coming off a six-inning start against Arizona earlier this week in which the right-hander gave up four hits, three walks and three earned runs. He left with the game tied at 3-3 before the Nationals rallied in what ended up 5-4 win.
"Max battled tonight, got through six and kept it at [3-3]," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the win.
In spite of the fact that he wasn't particularly sharp, Williams said, Scherzer battled with what he had and kept it tied through six in a 114-pitch effort.
"The good thing is that he competes regardless," Williams told reporters. "We stretched him tonight for his pitch count and he was able to work through the last inning and set us up for the rest of the game."
The outing left Scherzer (11-8) on the year with a 2.31 ERA, a 2.36 FIP, 22 walks (1.27 BB/9), 181 Ks (10.44 K/9) and a .191/.227/.308 line against in 22 starts and 156 innings pitched.
Scherzer's 23rd start of the season began with two quick outs, but a hanging 1-0 slider to Carlos Gonzalez ended up bouncing off the back wall of the bullpen in right for a solo blast that made it 1-0 Rockies early. Nolan Arenado singled to center with two out, but was stranded at the end of a 16-pitch frame.
Scherzer retired the Rockies in order in a 9-pitch second that left him at 25 pitches.
Three straight bunts, for hits by Yohan Flande and Charlie Blackmon, and a sac bunt by Jose Reyes, put runners on second and third with one out in the Rockies' half of the third inning, but Scherzer blew Carlos Gonzalez away with three straight fastballs for a swinging K and threw an 0-2 fastball up high by Nolan Arenado at 98 mph. Back-to-back Ks. Five total. 12-pitch frame. 37 total.
Scherzer retired the first two batters in the Rockies' fourth, but Daniel Descalso got hold of a first-pitch fastball and hit the second solo home run of the game off the Nationals' starter to center to cut the Nats' lead to 3-2 after three and a half. 11-pitch frame. 48 total after four.
Jose Reyes reached on a wild pitch/strike three with two down in the top of the fifth, bringing Carlos Gonzalez up for the third time today (HR, K), but the Rockies' speedy shortstop was gunned down trying to take second for out no.3 of a 14-pitch frame. 62 total for Scherzer after five.
Scherzer got up 1-2 on Carlos Gonzalez in the first at bat of the sixth, and gave up another CarGo homer that hit the facade of the second deck in right. 3-3. Ben Paulsen doubled to center, over Michael Taylor's head with one down in the inning, and Scherzer walked Descalso intentionally with two down to get to Kyle Parker. Parker singled to left on the first pitch he saw, a slider, bringing Paulsen in for a 4-3 Rockies' lead. Brandon Barnes K'd swinging to end the frame. 22-pitch frame. 84 total.
• Max Scherzer's Line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 10 Ks, 3 HRs, 84 P, 63 S, 3/2 GO/FO.
The line on Max Scherzer today: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 10 K -- 84 pitches, 63 strikes. pic.twitter.com/K8Lpt5y161— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 9, 2015
4. Flande vs the Nationals: In 10 games, two of them starts for the Rockies this season, 29-year-old Colorado left-hander Johan Flande was (2-1) before today, with a 3.54 ERA, a 3.77 FIP, eight walks (2.57 BB/9) and 17 Ks (5.46 K/9) in 28 innings, over which opposing hitters had a combined .250/.307/.385 line against him.
After his second start of the year, back on August 2nd, in which he gave up four hits and two runs in five innings of a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, in which he received no decision, Rockies' skipper Walt Weiss talked about why Flande was making a case for a spot in the rotation.
"He's a strike thrower," Weiss told Denver Post writer Patrick Saunders. "That's what he does, and he sinks the ball. He has a good changeup, and that's what he did again today."
Working with a sinker (90.6 mph AVG), slider (85.2), changeup (85.4), and fastball (90.6), Flande, who surrendered five hits and four runs in 5 ⅓ inning pitched in a start against the Nationals last July, started today's outing with a 1-0 lead and retired the Nats in order in the first in a quick, eight-pitch frame.
The score was still 1-0 when Flande took the mound in the second, but Ryan Zimmerman crushed a 3-1 change and hit a solo shot to straight center and Jayson Werth followed with a home run to the right of center field on the very next pitch. Zimmerman's 8th. Werth's 3rd. 2-1 Nationals.
Ian Desmond sent a grounder to third in the next at bat, that Arenado whiffed on, E:5., allowing Desmond to take second, but he was stranded at third three outs later. 19-pitch frame for Flande, 27 total after two.
Ryan Zimmerman got Flande again in his two-out at bat in the third, taking a 2-1 sinker to center this time and over the GEICO wall for his second of the game and his 9th of the season. 3-1 Nationals. Jayson Werth lined a single to center in the next at bat, but was stranded when Ian Desmond grounded out. 22-pitch frame. 49 total.
With the score 3-2 over three and a half, Flande retired the Nationals in order in a quick, 16-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth that left him at 65 total.
Bryce Harper punched a two-out single through the left side of the infield and the Rockies' shift in the Nationals' fifth, and that was it for Flande's third start of the season as Walt Weiss decided not to let the lefty face Ryan Zimmerman again...
• Yohan Flande's Line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 3 HRs, 71 P, 43 S, 12/0 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: Rockies came into the finale of the three-game set in D.C. today looking for their first win of a series on the road since May 29-31 in Philadelphia.
• Nolan Arenado's home run to left off Stephen Strasburg last night was his 27th in 2015, which is the NL's second-highest total, behind only Bryce Harper (29).
• For today's "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Since June 13th, Arenado has hits in 37 of his past 47 games, over which he's gone 53 for 185 (.286 AVG), and 15 home runs since June 1st, are the second-most in the NL, with only teammate Carlos Gonzalez (19) hitting more since the end of May.
• Gonzalez's 1.053 OPS since June 1st is the NL's second-highest, behind only Harper's 1.072 OPS.
• Ryan Zimmerman has reached base safely in 8 of 12 games since coming off the DL, and had RBIs in six straight games heading into today's series finale with the Rockies.
• In his 12 games after the DL stint, Zimmerman is hitting .275 with five doubles and two home runs. He added his third in 13 games in the second.
• Over his last 35 games, Bryce Harper has reached base in 34 games, with 40 hits and 28 walks in 149 PAs.
• Harper's .337 AVG is MLB's highest at the moment, as is his OBP (.466). He leads the NL in home runs (with 29), runs scored (with 76).
2. Turning Point(s): Carlos Gonzalez put the Rockies up early with a solo home run to right on a hanging slider from Max Scherzer in the first, but the Nationals came right back in the bottom of the second, with Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth hitting back-to-back blasts in the first two at bats (and on consecutive pitches) to put Washington up 2-1 in the second inning of the series finale with Colorado.
• The Rockies threatened to tie it up in the top of the third, with three straight bunts putting runners on second and third with one out, but Max Scherzer got serious at that point and blew both Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado away on just six pitches. Back-to-back Ks to end the threat, and Ryan Zimmerman homered again with two down, in the Nationals' half of the inning, making it a 3-1 Nats' lead.
• With the score 3-2 after five, after a Daniel Descalso homer in the fourth got the Rockies within one, CarGo struck again with a bomb of a solo home run on a 1-2 fastball that he bounced off the facade of the second deck in right for his second home run of the game off Max Scherzer. 3-3 in D.C. Ben Paulsen doubled with one down in the inning, and one out later scored when the Nationals walked Daniel Descalso to get to Kyle Parker, who lined a first-pitch slider to left for an RBI single that put the Rockies up, 4-3.
• The Nationals rallied to tie it up at 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth, however, with Jayson Werth walking, taking second on a one-out single to left by Wilson Ramos and scoring on a grounder to third off Michael Taylor's bat when Rockies' third baseman Nolan Arenado's throw home hit Werth in the back.
1. The Wrap-Up: Scott Oberg took over for the Rockies against Ryan Zimmerman with a runner on and two out in the Nationls' fifth, and got an out with one pitch on a sharp grounder to third that Nolan Arenado handled.
Rafael Betancourt took over for the Rockies up 4-3 after five and a half and issued a leadoff walk to Jayson Werth.
Ian Desmond started up 3-0, but ended up striking out. Wilson Ramos just missed hitting a home run to right field in the next at bat, bouncing a long single off the top of the out-of-town scoreboard, sending Werth around to third.
Michael Taylor hit a grounder to third in the next at bat, and Nolan Arenado's throw home hit Werth in the back. 4-4 game after six.
Felipe Rivero took over for Max Scherzer in the seventh. Bryce Harper lost a one-out fly to right off Jose Reyes' bat and let it drop in for a "double", but Rivero retired Carlos Gonzalez on a grounder back to the mound before Matt Williams went to the pen for Casey Janssen vs Nolan Arenado. 4-4 game. Pop to short. Tied after six and a half.
Boone Logan gave up a line drive double to left-center by Anthony Rendon in the first at bat of the Nats' half of the seventh. Bryce Harper K'd swinging on an 0-2 slider.
The Rockies went to the pen for John Axford vs Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman lined a single to right field, but Carlos Gonzalez came up throwing and made a perfect throw home to cut Anthony Rendon down at the plate. Still 4-4 after seven.
Drew Storen came on in the eighth and gave up a leadoff single on a 3-2 slider to Ben Paulsen. Storen came up and in on Michael McKenry when the catcher squared to bunt and hit him on the hand. Two on, 0 outs.
Daniel Descalso bunted both runners into scoring position, bringing Kyle Parker to the plate. Storen got up 0-2, and made a leaping play to field a grounder to the mound before getting Paulsen for the second out in a rundown.
DJ LeMahieu? Single through short on a 1-0 slider. Two runs score. 6-4.
Axford returned to the mound in the eighth and gave up a two-out single to center by Michael Taylor. Taylor stole his 14th base with Danny Espinosa up, but Espinosa K'd swinging to end the eighth.
Jonathan Papelbon retired the Rockies in order in the top of the ninth.
Tommy Kahnle came on for the save. Yunel Escobar sent a grounder to third in the first at bat, and it went right through Nolan Arenado's legs. E:5. Anthony Rendon worked an eight-pitch walk out of the Rockies' right-hander. Bryce Harper stepped in next and popped out to center. One down.
Ryan Zimmerman started up 3-0, and walked to load the bases. Jayson Werth? Swinging K on a 2-2 heater up high.
Ian Desmond? Groundout to short.
Nationals now 57-53