5. Scherzer vs the Fish: Max Scherzer snapped a streak of seven winless outings in his start against the Marlins in Miami last week, tossing eight scoreless innings in which he gave up just five hits in a 5-0 win.
Over the previous seven starts, Washington's 31-year-old right-hander had a 6.08 ERA, seven walks (1.58 BB/9) and 53 Ks (11.93 K/9) in 40 IP in which opposing hitters had a .305/.335/.587 line against him.
Scherzer put together a solid start against the Fish, however.
Matt Williams was asked after the win, what was working for Scherzer after he'd struggled to keep the ball down in the zone over the long winless streak, which stretched back to July 30th.
"All of it, really," Williams said. "Fastball command to both sides. Breaking ball and a couple of good changeups to lefties. In command."
"I just felt like I minimized the number of mistakes I made," Scherzer told reporters.
"The mistakes I did make, they finally hit the ball at people. It's finally nice to get some results and pitch deep into a game, and especially a game when we needed it after we lost the first two [in Miami] the way we have.
"Just executed pitches for the most part all day, just had a feel for everything."
The win left Scherzer (12-11) on the year with a 2.91 ERA, a 2.86 FIP, 26 walks (1.18 BB/9) and 231 Ks (10.50 K/9) in 198 IP, over which he's held opposing hitters to a .215/.249/.371 line.
Scherzer's 30th start of the season, and his fifth against the Marlins, against whom he was (3-1) with a 2.79 ERA and a .229/.250/.352 line against in 29 IP, began with a single to center by Dee Gordon. One out later, Christian Yelich jumped on a first-pitch fastball and sent a two-run home run into the right-center seats. 2-0 Fish. 12-pitch first.
A ten-pitch, 1-2-3 second left Scherzer at 22 pitches. A nine-pitch, 1-2-3 third pushed Scherzer up to 31 pitches.
His streak of retired batters ended with a one-out walk to Justin Bour in the fourth. Marcell Ozuna doubled to right field on a 97 mph 2-2 fastball outside in the at bat after the walk, putting runners on second and third with one out, but Derek Dietrich grounded weakly to second for out no.2 and J.T. Realmuto hit a fly to deep right field that Jayson Werth tracked down. 24-pitch frame. 55 total after four.
Miguel Rojas took the second walk of the night from Scherzer in the first at bat of the fifth, allowing Jose Fernandez to bunt the runner over/give up an out. A curve in the dirt got away from Jose Lobaton, allowing Rojas to take third, but he failed to score on a one-hopper to short by Dee Gordon that Ian Desmond handled and Ichiro Suzuki popped out to end the Marlins' fifth. 20-pitch frame. 75 total.
Marcell Ozuna took a two-out walk in the top of the sixth and went around third on a single by Derek Dietrich, but the Marlins' infielder got thrown out at second trying to take an extra base. 16-pitch frame, 91 total.
With the score tied at 2-2 after six, Miguel Rojas hit a hanging slider to left that got over Jayson Werth for a one-out double. Casey McGehee K'd looking for out no.2. Matt Williams came out to talk to Scherzer, who argued pretty vociferously that he wanted to stay in the game, and Williams left him in. Scherzer got a groundout from Dee Gordon to end the Marlins' seventh.
• Max Scherzer's Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 104 P, 70 S, 6/2 GO/FO.
Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 19, 2015
4. Fernandez vs the Nats: Jose Fernandez returned from a stint on the DL with a bicep strain to throw five scoreless innings on the mound against the Nationals last week in Marlins Park, giving up just two hits and a walk in a 2-0 win.
It was the 23-year-old, 2011 Marlins' first round pick's first major league start in over a month and the 25th start of his career in Miami, where he remained unbeaten at (16-0) with a 1.11 ERA, 2.12 FIP, 43 walks (2.38 BB/9), 190 Ks (10.51 K/9) and a .169/.222/.237 line against in 162 ⅔ innings pitched in his career.
Outside of Marlins Park, however, Fernandez was just (5-8) in 19 career starts before tonight's, with a 3.89 ERA, 2.91 FIP, 39 walks (3.20 BB/9), 127 Ks (10.42 K/9) and a .209/.286/.327 line against in 109 ⅔ IP.
He was making his first career start against Washington in Nationals Park in the second game of four for the Marlins in the nation's capital, after going (3-0) in his five previous starts against the Nationals, with an impressive 0.58 ERA and a .149/.221/.208 line against in 31 IP, all of which took place in Miami.
After his five scoreless innings of work against the Nats last week, Matt Williams talked about what made Fernandez so difficult an opponent.
"Breaking balls for strikes early," Williams said, "[and] he had a good fastball too.
"We knew that he would be short in some form or fashion because he hasn't pitched in a while, but he kept us at bay all night, throwing it where he wanted to and reaching back when he needed to. So, we just couldn't get anything going against him."
Fernandez's second consecutive start against the Nationals began with the Marlins up 2-0. He worked around a two-out walk to Bryce Harper for a scoreless, 16-pitch frame.
Clint Robinson cut the Marlins' lead in half with a solo home run on a first-pitch fastball from Fernandez in the home-half of the second. 2-1. Robinson's 8th.
Matt den Dekker and Jose Lobaton hit back-to-back, one-out singles, but Max Scherzer popped up a bunt attempt for out no.2 of the Nats' second and Anthony Rendon lined out to right to end a 19-pitch frame. 35 total after two.
A 10-pitch, 1-2-3 third left Fernandez at 45 pitches. Clint Robinson was 2 for 2 after he singled to start the Nationals' fourth, but he was doubled up on a grounder to third off Ian Desmond's bat in the next at bat. Matt den Dekker took a two-out walk, but Jose Lobaton K'd swinging to end an 18-pitch inning. 63 total for Fernandez.
A 14-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Fernandez at 77 pitches.
Bryce Harper reached first safely on a bouncer up the middle in the first at bat of the Nats' sixth and Jayson Werth took a fastball off the elbow in the next at bat. A wild pitch to Clint Robinson allowed both runners to advance into scoring position, but Robinson K'd swinging for the first out of the frame. Another wild pitch with Ian Desmond up allowed Harper to score and tie it. Desmond K'd swinging for out no.2 on Fernandez's 95th and final pitch of the night....
• Jose Fernandez's Line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 95 P, 58 S, 4/1 GO/FO, 2 WP, 1 HBP.
3. Random Game Notes: Anthony Rendon entered tonight's game with a none-game hit streak going, over which the 2011 1st Round pick is 17 for 40 (.425 AVG) with a double, a home run and two walks.
• Jayson Werth started the second game of four with the Fish with a 26-game on-base streak going, which goes back to August 21st. Over the course of the streak, he's put up a .308/.405/.606 line with seven doubles, eight home runs, 17 walks and 21 runs scored.
• In today's Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Washington rankes first in walks (with 125), and on-base percentage (.368), third in batting average (.284), slugging percentage (.476), runs scored (170) and runs per game (5.86) and fourth in home runs (45) in the last 29 games, going back to August 18th.
• Bryce Harper entered tonight's game leading the National League in AVG (.340), OBP (.467), SLG (.669), home runs (40), runs scored (110) and Wins Above Replacement (9.3 fWAR). #HarperMVP
• The Marlins' 6-4 win last night gave them nine wins in 16 games against the Nationals this season, and their third in seven games in Nationals Park.
• A win tonight would give the Marlins the season series with the Nats for the first time since 2011.
• In tonight's Marlins-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Miami is 11-4 in September with the NL's highest AVG (.293), in front of the second-place Nationals' .287 AVG amongst National League teams.
2. Turning Point(s): In 132 innings on the mound in the first half of the 2015 campaign, Washington Nationals' starter Max Scherzer gave up just ten home runs. Christian Yelich's two-run blast with one out in the first inning tonight was the 15th off Scherzer in 67 innings so far in the second half, for 25 total in 199 IP this season, after he gave up a 18 total in each of the last two seasons in 214 ⅓ IP in 2013 and 220 ⅓ IP in 2014.
• Clint Robinson cut the Marlins' lead in half with one swing, taking a first-pitch fastball from Jose Fernandez for a ride and depositing his eighth home run of the season and the first off the Marlins' starter in 50 IP in the second deck in right field. 2-1 Fish.
• Bryce Harper singled up the middle to start the Nationals' sixth, and a none-too-happy-about-it Jayson Werth took a fastball off the left elbow in the next at bat, putting two on with no one out in the bottom of the frame. A wild pitch from Fernandez moved both runners up, and one out later, another wild one brought Harper in to tie it up. 2-2.
1. The Wrap-Up: Chris Narveson took over for Jose Fernandez in the bottom of the sixth and got the third out of the frame with one pitch to Michael Taylor, who grounded out to end the frame. 2-2 game.
Narveson retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the seventh.
Felipe Rivero came on for the Nats in the top of the eighth and gave up a leadoff, infield single by Ichiro Suzuki. Justin Bour singled to right with one down to send Suzuki around to third. Blake Treinen came on looking for a double play. Marcell Ozuna sent a weak grounder to short and beat the relay to first to avoid the double play.
3-2 Marlins after six and a half.
Yunel Escobar singled to right off Jose Urena to start the Nationals' eighth. Bryce Harper stepped in next and walked to put two on. Trea Turner took over for Escobar at second. Jayson Werth came up against the Marlins' right-hander and K'd swinging at a 2-2 slider. With Clint Robinson up, a wild pitch allowed both runners to advance. Urena put Robinson on, loading them up, and a sac fly by Ian Desmond brought Turner in for the tying run. 3-3 in D.C. Michael Taylor stepped in next and hit an RBI single to center to bring Harper around, 4-3.
Jonathan Papelbon came on for the save opportunity and gave up a hard-hit double to right by Miguel Rojas, who took third on an errant throw in to second by Bryce Harper. Casey McGehee K'd looking at an 0-2 fastball for out no.1. Dee Gordon stepped in with the tying run 90 ft from home... and fell behind 0-2 but sent a fly to center that was deep enough to bring Rojas in. 4-4.
Raudel Lazo got two outs before Trea Turner hit line drive single to left to bring Bryce Harper to the plate, but Harper lined out to right to end the ninth.
On to extras.
Matt Thornton gave up a leadoff single by Christian Yelich. After a pop to short right by Justin Bour, Casey Janssen came on in relief and struck Marcell Ozuna out, and Yelich got caught trying to steal second for out no.3.
Brian Ellington gave up leadoff double to right by Jayson Werth in the first at bat of the tenth. Clint Robinson got the intentionals, bringing Ian Desmond up with two on and no one out, and squared to bunt on a fastball that got by J.T. Realmuto, allowing Werth to take third. Desmond grounded out to the mound for the first out of the frame, so the Marlins put Michael Taylor on, loading the bases in front of Jose Lobaton,
Nationals now 76-71