Max Scherzer lost his last start in Citi Field, giving up just three hits and two runs over 6 ⅓ innings in a 2-0 loss on May 17th, but when he faced the New York Mets in the nation's capital last month, the right-hander shut Washington's rivals out over 7 ⅓ innings in a 4-2 win.
"He was ready from the first pitch," Nationals' skipper Dusty Baker told reporters, explaining that they got all they could out of Scherzer that night.
"He had his control, he had his breaking ball going and when we took him out in the eighth he was kind of going batter-to-batter because we knew, well we thought, from talking to him, that he had enough to start the inning, but not enough to finish the inning."
Scherzer followed that outing up with a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in which the one run he allowed accounted for the margin of victory.
Tonight, in his second start of the season in Citi Field, Scherzer gave up an unearned run in the first then settled in and tossed six scoreless frames as the Nationals jumped out to a 6-1 lead and took the second game in a row in New York.
Scherzer retired 17 of the last 19 batters he faced, talking manager Dusty Baker into letting him stay in for one more batter after a two-out walk in the seventh, and retiring one last batter to end his night...
Scherzer's outing started with a four-pitch walk to Jose Reyes, who scored from third following a single to left by Curtis Granderson on which Jayson Werth committed a throwing error. Neil Walker's sac fly to center brought Reyes in for a 1-0 Mets' lead early in the third game of four in New York.
Mets' starter Logan Verrett returned the favor in the top of the second, issuing a five pitch leadoff walk to Bryce Harper, who promptly stole second base to put himself in scoring position, took third on a single to left by Wilson Ramos and scored on a sac fly to center by Clint Robinson to make it a 1-1 game.
Scherzer took the second consecutive leadoff walk from Verrett in the top of the third and scored from first on a triple to the right field corner by Ben Revere, 2-1. Revere scored on an RBI single to right Daniel Murphy, who improved to 19 for 46 (.413 AVG) in 12 games against his former team in his first season with the Nationals, 3-1.
Murphy improved to 20 for 47 (.426) with an RBI double to center with two down in the fifth, driving Werth in from first after a two-out walk by the veteran outfielder. 4-1 Nationals.
A two-out walk in the seventh ended Verrett's outing, and Werth, who took the free pass, scored again when Daniel Murphy connected for his 3rd hit of the night, a two-run blast to right that made it 6-1 Nats. Murphy's 16th.
Updated Daniel Murphy kills the Mets stats: 21 for 48 (.438), 3 doubles, 6 HRs, 19 RBIs in 12 games vs NYM.
Scherzer talked his way into another batter after he issued a two-out walk to Alejandro De Aza in the Mets' half of the seventh and got a lineout to left for the final out of the frame on his 117th pitch of the night.
• Max Scherzer's Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 Ks, 117 P, 73 S, 4/6 GO/FO.
Felipe Rivero took over on the mound in the eighth and threw a scoreless frame, working around a one-out double, and Matt Belisle completed a scoreless ninth to end it. Ballgame. 6-1 final. Most first-half wins in franchise history (2005-present).
Nationals now 53-36
- Washington's 52-36 record after last night's win is the third-best in the NL with two games to go before the All-Star Break, behind only the Chicago Cubs (52-34) and San Francisco Giants (55-33).
- With one more win in the next two games, the Nationals will match thee franchise mark (2005-present) for the most wins before the All-Star Break.
- Washington's +99 run differential is the second-best in the majors, behind only the Cubs' +144.
- Wins in both of he next two games would match the all-time franchise mark of 54 set by the 1994 Montreal Expos.
- Clint Robinson, who hit a two-run home run in last night's 3-1 win, has now homered in three of his last four starts and he's 8 for 25 (.308 AVG) in his last seven starts.
- In today's Washington-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: With last night's win, the Nationals improved to 30-19 against New York since 2014... and they also hold the advantage in the all-time series with the Mets, 112-101.
- In a bonus Nationals-themed "Fun with Arbitrary End Points" segment: Nationals' hitters are ranked second in the NL in OBP (.340), SLG (.462), runs scored (187) and home runs (53)... since June 1st.
- Last night's loss was just the Mets second in their last 11 games in Citi Field, and their 18th in 44 games at home this season.
- The Mets' only run scored last night came on a home run by Asdrubal Cabrera which New York's streak of 11-straight games in which they've hit a home run, going back to June 21st. They've hit a total of 27 in that stretch.
- Cabrera's home run was the infielder's fourth this month. He's 8 for 23 (.348 AVG) so far in July.
Nationals now 53-36