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"Strikeouts are sexy." - Nationals' Max Scherzer after striking out 20 vs Tigers

Max Scherzer tied the MLB record for strikeouts in a nine-inning start with 20 Ks total in a complete game against his former team, the Detroit Tigers. Washington's 31-year-old starter beat Jordan Zimmerman in the series finale in Nationals Park.

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Neither Max Scherzer or Dusty Baker, according to what they each told reporters, realized just how high Scherzer's strikeout total had climbed last night until it was put up on the scoreboard in Nationals Park late in the game.

In the end, the 31-year-old right-hander recorded twenty total strikeouts, tying the MLB record for the most Ks in a nine-inning game.

He struck out five of the first seven batters he faced, 13 of 20 on 77 pitches, was up to 93 pitches when he recorded his 15th in the seventh and after he struck out the side in the eighth, he was up to 18 Ks and 106 pitches.

"I knew I had quite a few early in the game and I really didn't pay attention to it because I was in a tight ballgame..." -Max Scherzer on when he realized he had a shot at 20+ Ks

"I knew I had quite a few early in the game and I really didn't pay attention to it because I was in a tight ballgame," Scherzer said.

"[Jordan Zimmermann] was out there really pitching his game as well and then I think in the seventh I realized there was quite a few and then I think in the eighth when I struck somebody out they mentioned -- I could kind of hear that it was 18, so that was the first time I knew, 'Okay, I have a chance now to go out there for the ninth and get two strikeouts, because 20 is just an unbelievable number.

"There's something about 20 in the game, 20 strikeouts, 20 wins, those are huge numbers, and to be able to go out there tonight and accomplish one of those, that was a huge feat."

"I knew there was a lot," Baker said, "but then when they put it on the board, I was like, 'Oh, no.'

"And then, at that point in time, how often do you have a chance to make history like that. We just have to watch him in his next start. And he was throwing almost as hard, minus a couple miles an hour, late as we was early."

Baker said he started getting nervous as he saw Scherzer's pitch count rise.

"You start figuring that out about the seventh or so -- because he had a very low pitch count early and then they fouled off some pitches in the middle innings and those guys over there they have some guys that can reach the fences, big time, as you saw."

Scherzer allowed two home runs on the night, a third inning blast by Jose Iglesias, who hit his first of the season out to left on a first-pitch fastball, and a ninth inning home run by J.D. Martinez, who took the first pitch of the inning to left-center.

"I think it's the only time I'll ever talk about giving up two home runs and I'll have this big a smile on my face," Scherzer said.

"A guy reached the fence for the first time this year, but Max got the big hitters out, big time," Baker said. "I don't know, did he have any walks? No walks?"

"He was dealing, we wanted to get him the record, but at the same time we wanted the ballgame, but Max dug deep, big time." -Dusty Baker on Max Scherzer vs the Tigers

Not one walk, and he threw 119 pitches total in the end, 96 for strikes. Scherzer was pounding the strike zone.

"And that's the key, he was getting strike one," Baker said.

"That was the best performance I've seen in person. It was very nerve wracking, because we had [Jonathan Papelbon] warming up in case he got into trouble, because we wanted him to -- he was dealing, we wanted to get him the record, but at the same time we wanted the ballgame, but Max dug deep, big time, and he was -- you know, he was awesome.

"His fastball was electric and his slider, I don't think he threw that many changeups tonight."

Scherzer threw 62 fastballs total, 51 for strikes (82.3%), 37 sliders, 29 for strikes (78.4%), 13 changeups, 11 for strikes (84.6%), fives curves, three for strikes (60%) and two cutters (both for strikes).

Did he think about setting a new major league record when he started the ninth three Ks away?

"It crossed my mind," Scherzer said. "I remember thinking in an 0-1 count, "Hey, if I get this slider...' I was thinking of all the scenarios in an 0-2 count that I could do to be able to get that last strikeout."

"But you just take a win, you take the 20 strikeouts, that's just an unbelievable accomplishment."

Scherzer's first thought when it was all over? Did he think about not getting 21 Ks?

"'We won and there's 20 punch outs,'" Scherzer told reporters.

The challenge of facing his former team, Scherzer said, was just what he needed after struggling out of the gate in his second season with Washington after signing a 7-year/$210M contract in the winter of 2014-15.

"Really haven't felt like I've been pitching that well and especially how I pitched in Chicago, I almost needed the Tigers to come to almost get me amped up to get going and to be going on full cylinders and put something extra on the line.

"With those guys, the past couple days, they've had their fun and we've been talking back and forth and I know Victor [Martinez] he's happy cause he went 3 for 4 tonight, so I know we've been talking a little trash but tonight at the end of the night was a special night. Strikeouts are sexy. And to be able to punch out 20, it's sexy."