clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Nationals haven't quit fighting, and Max Scherzer's not coming off the mound!

With a runner in scoring position and two out in the seventh, Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams walked out to the mound to check on his starter, Max Scherzer, who made it abundantly clear that he wanted to record the final out of the inning.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday afternoon, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, continuing a thread he's been reporting on since back in early August, wrote in his weekly "Inside Baseball" column that Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams, "is all but assured of a pink slip if the Nats don't somehow sneak into the playoffs."

With the Nationals 8.0 games back in the NL East with 15 games remaining, the possibility of a return to the postseason is remote at best.

"I asked him. I said, 'Do you want him?' And he said, 'Yeah." Among other things. I don't know if you can read lips, but yeah." -Matt Williams on mound conversation with Max Scherzer

Williams received a vote of confidence from Bryce Harper this week, when the 22-year-old slugger talked about the role the second-year skipper has played in his MVP-worthy breakthrough campaign, but as Heyman wrote, "... the silence from that clubhouse has been otherwise deafening in that regard."

While they haven't spoke up in support of their manager, on the record at least, the Nationals clearly haven't quit on him either.

They fought back last night, and took the second game of four with the Miami Marlins with a walk-off sac fly by Jose Lobaton in the tenth inning lifting them to their 76th win of the season.

"They enjoy playing the game and regardless of when it is or what game it is, game one or today, they have great desire to win and compete," Williams told reporters after the game.

"Good hustle, good energy, they're coming to play every day and going out with exuberance and a willingness to win."

Speaking of exuberance, and a willingness to win...

It was hard to miss the exchange between Williams and Nats' ace Max Scherzer in the seventh inning of last night's game.

With the score tied at 2-2, Scherzer gave up a one-out double by Miguel Rojas then struck out Casey McGehee.

With the potential go-ahead run at second, Williams walked out to the mound for a conversation with his starter, who made it clear that he wanted to stay in the game to face Dee Gordon.

Gordon was 1 for 2 with a single on the night and he was 8 for 25 with a double and a home run against Scherzer in their respective careers, but Scherzer wasn't about to come out of the game.

"I just wanted to make sure I looked him in the eye," Williams said.

Did he have any intention of lifting Scherzer at that point? "No. No. Just wanted to go make sure that he was good to go for the next guy, knew he was."

"I asked him. I said, 'Do you want him?' And he said, 'Yeah." Among other things. I don't know if you can read lips, but yeah."

"[It] was [the] biggest spot in the ball game," Scherzer told reporters, including CSNWashington.com's Daniel Shiferaw.

"I understand the importance of my job to be able to go out there and give the team a chance to win. In that situation, even though it's a tie ballgame, I'm giving my team a chance to win and that's where you're able to do your job, it's rewarding."

Scherzer got a groundout from Gordon with his 104th and final pitch.

He struck out six in seven innings of work in which he gave up five hits, three walks and two earned runs, both of them on a two-run home run by Christian Yelich in the first.

"First inning ball to Yelich was a little bit over the middle of the plate," Williams said, "but other than that he was real good.

"Again, that's a sign of a veteran guy. He can give up a couple in the first and settle in and keep them right there and allow us to get back in the game."

The Nationals rallied to tie it in the sixth inning, fought back to take a lead after falling behind in the eighth, then after a blown lead in the ninth, won it in the tenth.

Scherzer's second half, like the Nationals' second-half, has been a disappointment, but no one has given up the fight.