5. Scherzer's September: In five August starts, Nationals' right-hander Max Scherzer was (0-3) with Washington 1-4 in his outings, over which the 31-year-old starter put up a 6.43 ERA, a 4.60 FIP and a .282/.333/.548 line against in 28 innings pitched.
As bad a month as he had, Scherzer was still (11-11) with a 2.88 ERA, a 2.77 FIP, 26 walks (1.31 BB/9), 209 Ks (10.57 K/9) and a .207/.244/.352 line against in 178 IP before he took the mound tonight to face the St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium.
Scherzer was coming off a seven-inning start against the Miami Marlins in which he gave up six hits, two home runs and four runs total, striking out eight in what ended up a 4-3 loss to the Fish in the nation's capital.
"I threw the ball well, but it's frustrating to give up four runs in that game," Scherzer told reporters.
"Kind of did a lot of good things tonight. No walks, pounding the zone, lots of first pitch strikes. Didn't fall behind guys. I'm doing everything I'm designed to go out there and do, I just need to execute and avoid some of these mistakes."
Matt Williams was asked what differences, if any, he saw from Scherzer so far in the second half compared to what he saw from the right-hander before the All-Star Break, when he was (10-7) in 18 starts with a 2.11 ERA, a 2.25 FIP, and a .183/.214/.299 line against in 132 innings.
"I think maybe if I could tell a difference it may be location," Williams said.
"I think he's strong, reaching back for 98 [mph] tonight. I don't think there's an issue there. I know that he feels good. Location may not be as good as it was during that good streak that he had."
Scherzer was taking on the Cardinals tonight for the second time this season after dropping a 4-2 decision to St. Louis back on April 23rd in Nationals Park, giving up six hits and two earned runs in seven innings.
His outing began with a scoreless, 14-pitch first in which he worked around a one-out single by Stephen Piscotty.
One at bat into the second, Scherzer and the Nationals were down 1-0 after Brandon Moss battled for seven pitches and crushed a 96 mph 3-2 fastball, sending a no-doubter out to right field.
No left-handed batter has ever hit a home run in Busch Stadium III further than the one Brandon Moss just sent 454 feet into the RF seats.— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) September 3, 2015
Kolten Wong and Tony Cruz hit back-to-back one-out singles after the blast, but both runners were stranded at the end of a 23-pitch frame that left Scherzer at 37 total after two.
Stephen Piscotty singled to start the Cards' third and moved up on a one-out single to left by Jhonny Peralta, but back-to-back Ks got Scherzer through a scoreless, 20-pitch frame. 57 total.
Kolten Wong singled in the first at bat of the Cardinals' fourth and took second on a one-out sac bunt, but was stranded there when Scherzer struck Matt Carpenter out to end a 13-pitch frame with his 7th K. 70 pitches.
Jason Heyward singled with one down in the bottom of the fifth and took third on a single to right by Jhonny Peralta, and Heyward scored on a two-out single to right by Tommy Pham. 2-2 game. 25-pitch frame, 95 total.
With the score 3-2 Nationals after Ryan Zimmerman's second home run of the game, Matt Carpenter hit a two-out double to right for the 11th hit of the night off Scherzer, but Stephen Piscotty K'd swinging to end the Cardinals' half of the sixth. 13-pitch frame. 108 total. Still 3-2 Nationals.
• Max Scherzer's Line: 6.0 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 108 P, 82 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
4. Not Wacha: For the second night in a row, St. Louis switched up their starters. Michael Wacha was supposed to face off against Max Scherzer, but the Cardinals decided to go with Tyler Lyons instead with Cards' skipper Mike Matheny explaining that Wacha was being rested like Carlos Martinez was in the second game of three with the Nationals last night.
Lyons, 27, was making his tenth appearances and seventh start for the Cardinals this season, in his third major league campaign after St. Louis drafted him out of Oklahoma State in the 9th Round of the 2010 Draft.
In six starts this season, the left-hander was (2-1) with a 5.02 ERA, a 4.49 FIP and a .285/.356/.487 line against in 28 ⅔ IP.
In his last start before tonight's, Lyons gave up seven hits, five walks and three runs in 5 ⅔ IP, taking the loss in a 7-4 game against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field.
He put together 7 ⅔ scoreless as a reliever with Cards in August, with a .214/.241/.214 line against last month.
Tonight, Lyons was making his first career appearances against the Nationals. It began with a scoreless, 18-pitch first in which he struck out the side around a one-out double by Anthony Rendon.
An eight-pitch, 1-2-3 second left Lyons at 26 pitches.
The Cardinals' southpaw had two outs in the third when Jayson Werth got all of a 92 mph 2-2 fastball and hit a game-tying solo home run to center to make it 1-1. 17 pitch third, 43 total.
It was a 2-2 change that cost Lyons in the fourth, when Ryan Zimmerman hit a one-out home run to left for his third in three games in St. Louis and a 2-1 lead in the series finale. With two on and two out, Danny Espinosa took a walk to load the bases in front of Max Scherzer, who grounded into a force to end a 19-pitch frame that pushed Lyons up to 62 pitches.
A 10-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Lyons at 72 pitches. With the score tied up at 2-2, Lyons came back out for the sixth and gave up Ryan Zimmerman's second home run of the night on a 2-2 fastball that went out to right-center. Three outs later, Lyons was up to 87 pitches after a 15-pitch sixth.
• Tyler Lyons' Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 3 HRs, 87 P, 60 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: With last night's win, the Cardinals improved to 24-5 against the Nationals in Busch Stadium III with wins in nine straight games in St. Louis and 20 of their last 22.
• The Cardinals have scored six-plus runs in the last four games, giving them four games of six or more for the first time since early May of 2013.
• The Cards are 4-1 against the Nationals so far this season, with tonight's series finale the last regular season meeting of the year between the two teams.
• Tyler Lyons has held left-handed hitters to a .223 BAA so far this season.
• Today's Jayson Werth-themed Fun with Arbitrary End Points Update: In 12 games as a leadoff hitter, Jayson Werth has a .347/.429/.633 line with six doubles, a triple and two home runs. He added his third home run in 13 games as the leadoff hitter in the third.
• Ryan Zimmerman started the night with a six-game hitting streak and he had hits in eight of his last nine including home runs in each of the first two games in Busch Stadium, both to center.
• Bryce Harper started the night with a 13-game on-base streak going, over which he's gone 17 for 44 (.386 AVG) with six doubles, a home run and 12 walks over the course of his streak.
• Harper started the night ranked first in the NL in SLG (.630), OBP (.461), AVG (.333) and Wins Above Replacement (fWAR - 7.7).
• In your latest Ian Desmond update, the 30-year-old shortstop has put up a .301/.366/.555 line with five doubles, a triple, 10 HRs, 15 walks and seven steals in 40 games since July 20th.
2. Turning Point(s): Max Scherzer allowed 10 home runs in 18 starts and 132 IP in the first half of his first season in a Nationals uniform. After he gave up a solo home run by Brandon Moss in the bottom of the second inning tonight, the Nats' right-hander had allowed 11 in eight starts and 48 IP so far in the so-called second-half of the 2015 campaign.
And it was an absolute bomb for Moss, who homered to win last night's game with his walk-off blast in the ninth and followed it up with a 454 foot blast to right tonight. 1-0 Cards.
Brandon Moss hits the longest HR by a left-hander batter in Busch Stadium III history at 454 feet.— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 3, 2015
• Tyler Lyons struck out six of the first nine batters he faced tonight before Jayson Werth stepped in with two down in the top of the third and hit a 92 mph 2-2 fastball to center for a solo home run that tied things up at 1-1 in the series finale in St. Louis.
• The second home run of the game off Lyons, came off Ryan Zimmerman's bat when the Nationals' first baseman hit a 2-2 change to left for his third home run in three games in Busch Stadium. 2-1 Nationals.
• Jason Heyward and Jhonny Peralta singled in back-to-back at bats with one down in the Cards' fifth, but Scherzer was one strike away from escaping another jam when Tommy Pham singled to right on an 0-2 slider to drive in the tying run. 2-2.
• But Ryan Zimmerman did it again in the sixth, taking a 90 mph 2-2 fastball for a ride to right-center for his second home run of the game and his fourth of the series in St. Louis. 3-2 Nationals.
1. The Wrap-Up: Cards' right-hander Miguel Sokolovich took over the for the Cardinals in the top of the seventh and retired the Nationals in order in a 15-pitch frame.
Matt Thornton retired Jason Heyward for the first out of the Cards' seventh.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams went to the pen for Blake Treinen vs Jhonny Peralta, Peralta hit an opposite field single to right with one down and Brandon Moss singled to left to put two on for Tommy Pham, who K'd swinging at a diving 2-2 sinker. Matt Grace came on to face Kolten Wong, lefty vs lefty. Single to center, tie game. 3-3.
Rafael Martin came on to face Tony Cruz with runners on second and third and struck him out. 3-3 after seven.
Jonathan Broxton came on for the Cards in the eighth and walked Anthony Rendon, who took second on a sac bunt by Matt den Dekker and scored on an RBI double to right by Ryan Zimmerman. 4-3 Nationals after seven and a half.
Drew Storen took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the eighth and struck out the side in a 16-pitch frame.
Steve Cisek retired the Nationals in order in the top of the ninth.
Jonathan Papelbon came on to end it and gave up a leadoff single by Jason Heyward. Jhonny Peralta sent a fly ball to center for out no.1 ONE!! Brandon Moss singled to right with Heyward on the move, allowing the tying run to get to third. Peter Bourjos came on to run at first. Tommy Pham stepped in next and K'd looking at a 2-2 fastball for out no.2. TWO!! Kolten Wong... grounded out to first. Papelbon got over to cover. 4-3 Nationals.
Nationals now 67-65