Max Scherzer made twenty starts last season, in his first year with the Washington Nationals, before his first three-walk outing in Nats uniform. Scherzer walked three in his second start of the season this time around, in a six-inning outing last time out, against the Atlanta Braves, which saw him give up six hits, the three walks and four earned runs in what ended up a 6-4 win.
All four runs, and two of the three walks he allowed came in the first two innings, however. Scherzer settled in after that, holding the Braves off the board as his teammates rallied and picked him up.
"That's Scherzer," Dusty Baker told reporters after the game.
"This guy has as much determination and competitive drive of any guy I've seen in a long time. He really wants to win, wants to win badly. I just came from the clubhouse, he's one of the happiest guys I've seen in a long time today."
"Just couldn't find a way to get that big pitch with runners on base in the first couple innings," Scherzer explained when he spoke to MASN's Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight, "but sometimes that's just the way it goes."
"I choose to look at how I finished and I finished strong tonight," he added. "I went out there and made some big pitches when I needed to."
Scherzer started a little slow again in start No. 3 of 2016.
He took the mound with a 3-0 lead, courtesy of a sac fly by Bryce Harper, RBI single by Ryan Zimmerman and an RBI triple by Daniel Murphy off Philadelphia Phillies' starter Aaron Nola in the top of the first, and gave up a one-out walk (to Odubel Herrera) and a single (by Maikel Franco), though he stranded both runners at the end of a 15-pitch frame.
Scherzer retired the next eight batters he faced before picking up a bat with two on and two out in the fourth, after a double to left by Wilson Ramos and an intentional walk to Danny Espinosa, and doubling to right field to drive in two and make it 5-0 Nationals.
Nola issued a leadoff walk to Nats' third baseman Anthony Rendon in the fifth, [ed. note - "Did you know that Rendon walked more than he Kd' in college?"] which is always bad idea, especially in front of Bryce Harper, who homered for the third time in his three last games, sending his fifth home run of the season and the 102nd of his career out to right on a line to make it 7-0 Nationals.
Scherzer's streak of retired batters ended at 12-straight when Phillies' catcher Cameron Rupp hit a 3-2 fastball out to left for a solo home run in the fifth that made it 7-1 Nats after five.
Scherzer was done for the night after seven innings, stranding two in his final inning of work after giving up back-to-back, one-out singles.
Max Scherzer's Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 108 P, 72 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
Matt Belisle threw a scoreless eighth inning. Chris Heisey hit a solo home run to right to make it 8-1 after eight and a half and Shawn Kelley threw a scoreless ninth to end it. 8-1 final. Seven straight wins.
Nationals now 9-1
- Washington's 8-1 start to the season, is the best in franchise history, not just (2005-present), but going back to 1969 and the Montreal Expos' history and it's also the best in D.C. baseball history.
- In tonight's Nationals-themed Fun with Arbitrary End Points Segment, the Nationals, after last night's win, are 52-42 against the Phillies... since 2011. Overall since 2005, the Nats are 91-113 against their NL East rivals from the so-called City of Brotherly Love.
- Michael A. Taylor's leadoff homer last night was the third leadoff blast of his career. He walked in his first at bat today.
- Daniel Murphy was 1 for 3 with a walked and two runs scored in the series opener last night, and he's now reached base safely in 20 of his first 35 plate appearances with the Nationals. He tripled in his first at bat tonight, driving in one of three runs the Nats scored early.
- Murphy started the night (after ten games, we know) leading the NL in AVG (.464) and OBP (.571).
- This Day in Nationals' History: April 16, 2009 - Shairon Martis earned his first win of the season in an 8-2 win over the Phillies.
- In four starts against the Phillies last season, Max Scherzer was (3-0) with a 1.50 ERA in 30 innings over which he struck out 30 batters and issued just three walks.
- Through the first eleven games this season, Phillies' outfielder Odubel Herrera has seen more pitches than any batter in the majors and ranks first in pitches per plate appearance (5.27). He's also taken 10 walks in his first 45 PAs.
- The Phillies had dropped four straight and seven of the last eight to the Nationals in Citizens Bank Park before tonight. The Nationals made it five straight and eight of nine in CBP.
- Bryce Harper was 10 for 17 (.588 AVG) over his last four games in CBP. He sliced a single to left-center in his second at bat, homered in his third, etc. Three homers in three games for Harper.
- Opposing hitters had just a .181 AVG against Philly starter Aaron Nola's curve before tonight through his 15 career starts.
Nationals now 9-1