Max Scherzer was a hard-luck loser in a 1-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on July 4th, giving up a run on four hits in six innings of work on the mound in the nation’s capital.
In five starts that followed, Washington’s 32-year-old righty was unbeaten, at (3-0), with a 1.75 ERA, six walks (1.50 BB/9), 43 strikeouts (10.75 K/9) and a .173/.221/.307 line against in 36 innings pitched heading into his start tonight in Nationals Park.
Scherzer was taking on the Cleveland Indians in the first of two games with the AL Central’s current division leaders after the Nationals split two in Ohio’s Progressive Field during the last road trip.
Scherzer retired the first twelve batters he faced tonight on 51 pitches, striking out six, including five-straight between the third and fourth.
He was up to 14-straight when he issued a two-out walk to Tyler Naquin in the top of the fifth, spoiling his shot at a perfect game, but he stranded the runner with a pop-out to third in the next at bat, leaving him with 15 of 16 set down through five on 68 pitches.
Ben Revere made “one of those catches” you need to do something special on a fly to left-center in the first at bat of the sixth, robbing Indians’ catcher Roberto Perez of a potential extra-base hit with a leading grab at the Kaiser Permanente® wall. Two Ks in a row ended the top of the sixth with Scherzer’s no-hit bid intact.
One out into the seventh, however, Indians’ shortstop Francisco Lindor singled to center on an 0-2 fastball for Cleveland’s first hit.
Scherzer then threw a pickoff throw away, allowing Lindor to take third with one down, and Jose Ramirez hit an RBI double to right in the next at bat to make it 1-0 Indians.
Ramirez stole third base and scored on a pop to short left by Lonnie Chisenhall that fell in for an RBI single, making it 2-0 Indians, after six and a half...
Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 Ks, 108 P, 70 S, 2/3 GO/FO.
Scherzer’s opponent on the mound, Trevor Bauer, was (0-3) in his last five starts before tonight’s, with an 8.37 ERA and a .324/.405/.529 line against in 23 ⅔ over that stretch.
Bauer, 25, and a 2011 1st Round pick (No. 3 overall, three spots before Anthony Rendon went No. 6 to the Nats), matched Scherzer with five scoreless to start the game, giving up two hits and two walks on 74 pitches.
An eight-pitch bottom of the sixth, in which he worked around a one-out double to left by Rendon, gave Bauer six scoreless on 82 pitches.
Given a 2-0 lead to work with, Bauer came back out for the seventh and retired one batter before a double by Ben Revere ended his night...
Trevor Bauer’s Line: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 92 P, 57 S, 10/3 GO/FO.
Andrew Miller came on to face pinch hitter Brian Goodwin with Revere on second and popped out to short right. Trea Turner K’d chasing a slider out of the zone inside for out No. 3.
Blake Treinen and Sammy Solis combined for a scoreless eighth to keep it 2-0 in the Indians’ favor.
Miller came back out for the eighth and gave up a solo home run to left by Jayson Werth, who got all of a 2-2 slider inside and pulled it down the line. 2-1 Indians.
Bryan Shaw gave up a two-out single by Wilson Ramos, but struck Chris Heisey out to end the eighth.
Jason Kipnis doubled to left off Solis, just out of Werth’s reach, to start the top of the ninth, and took third on a groundout before scoring on a blooper to center, 3-1.
That’s how it ended after Cody Allen closed out the ninth. Cleveland takes the series opener in D.C.
Nationals now 66-46
- Washington and Cleveland split their two-game set in Progressive Field last week, giving the Indians a 6-5 advantage over the Nationals in the all-time series between the two teams (2005-present).
- Cleveland started the matchup in Washington with the second-best record in the AL at 62-47, behind only the Texas Rangers (66-47).
- In today’s Indians-themed “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Cleveland is 36-23... since June 1st, tied with the Toronto Blue Jays for the best record in that period.
- This week’s two-game set marked the Indians’ first visit to the nation’s capital since 2007, the year before Nationals Park opened.
- Washington’s 66-45 record going into the two-game set with Cleveland was the second-best in the majors, behind only the Chicago Cubs’ 69-41 record.
- With their 1-0 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday, Washington had a +135 run differential on the season, second only to the Chicago Cubs’ +182 run differential amongst major league teams.
- Cleveland was averaging 4.99 runs-per-game, second-best in the AL and fourth-best in the majors this season before tonight.
- Jayson Werth extended his on-base streak to 38-straight games with a walk in the first inning on Sunday and walked again tonight to take it 39-straight, then homered later in the game.
- Over the course of his streak, which is the longest in the majors this season, Werth has collected 33 hits and 28 walks, while posting a .374 OBP.
- Mike Napoli started the series with a nine-game hit streak going, over which he was 13 for 33 (.394 AVG) with a double, six home runs and 10 runs scored.
- Wilson Ramos hit his 18th HR of the season out to right on Sunday, becoming just the fourth catcher in franchise history (Montreal included) to homer in a 1-0 win, joining Gary Carter (1979), Mike Fitzgerald (1986) and Brian Schneider (2005) on that list.
- Ramos led all MLB catchers in OBP (.387) SLG (.556) and RBIs (62) going into tonight’s game.
- Nationals’ 1B/2B Daniel Murphy started the day leading the National League in AVG (.350), SLG (.615), OPS (1.004), hits (139), doubles (tied, 32) and multi-hit games (44).
Nationals now 66-46