Max Scherzer shook off a 100 mph liner off his knee, and tossed an immaculate inning against the Philadelphia Phillies tonight in the nation’s capital, completing six strong on the mound.
Scherzer survived a fourth inning scare when Philly right fielder Michael Saunders sent a screamer back to the mound and off the pitcher’s left knee, but after trying to walk it off and falling to the ground in pain, the Nationals’ ace stayed in the game through the sixth and was the pitcher of record when the Nats took a 4-3 lead on an RBI double to left by Brian Goodwin in the home half of the frame.
After blowing a late lead in the first game of today’s doubleheader, however, the Nats’ bullpen did it again, with Matt Grace giving up a leadoff walk in the top of the eighth, before Jacob Turner came on and gave up a walk and a two-run triple that made it a 5-4 game in the Phillies’ favor.
It stayed that way for all of a half an inning, before Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run blast to left field and off the foul pole to put the Nationals on top, 6-5.
Matt Albers earned the save in the ninth. Ballgame.
Nationals now 24-13
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
• Trea Turner reached on an error on a two-hopper to second that bounced off Cesar Hernandez’s hip on a weird, late hop and shot into center.
Turner took second base on a wild pitch to Bryce Harper, and scored when Harper lined an RBI single to right off Vince Velasquez, 1-0.
• Max Scherzer took a 100 mph+ liner back to the mound off his left knee in the fourth and was in considerable pain, but he shook it off and stayed in the game.
With runners on first and second and no one out, he got an out on a fly to right field, but Aaron Altherr, who reached on a leadoff HBP, scored on a one-out single to left by Brock Stassi, 1-1. Saunders scored on a two-out RBI single to right by Andrew Knapp, who worked the count full and hit a grounder through the right side, 2-1.
• Scherzer, somewhat surprisingly, came back out for the fifth inning, and threw an immaculate inning, nine pitches, all strikes, three Ks.
Immaculate [ih-mak-yuh-lit] adj.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 15, 2017
1. Free from flaws or mistakes; perfect
2. Max Scherzer pic.twitter.com/xZa1u12NOb
• Jose Lobaton lined a 3-2 fastball from Velasquez into the right-center gap to start the Nationals’ half of the fifth, took third on a fly to right by Max Scherzer and scored on a sac fly to left by Trea Turner that tied it up, 2-2.
• Chris Heisey singled with two down in the fifth and scored on a two-out RBI double to right by Bryce Harper, 3-2.
Bryce is a good friend – he’ll never leave you stranded. pic.twitter.com/U0s7ezfDXO— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) May 15, 2017
• Michael Saunders and Andres Blanco tied it right back up with back-to-back hits in the top of the sixth, with Saunders doubling and scoring on Blanco’s single, 3-3.
• With runners on first and second and two out in the Phillies’ sixth, Daniel Nava sent a grounder up the middle, but Trea Turner made a diving play, threw behind Brock Stassi at third, and started a 6-5-2 putout which ended with Anthony Rendon throwing home to Jose Lobaton, who tagged Stassi out at home to end the frame.
• Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 Ks, 105 P, 73 S, 5/1 GO/FO.
• Anthony Rendon walked to start the Nationals’ half of the sixth, stole second base with Michael A. Taylor up, and scored on a two-out RBI double by pinch hitter Brian Goodwin, who put the Nats up, 4-3 on the Phillies.
• Matt Grace, who threw a scoreless seventh, got one out in the eighth before Jacob Turner took over and gave up a walk and a two-run triple by Freddy Galvis that put the Phillies back on top, 5-4.
• And that was how it en—- wait! Anthony Rendon singled with one out in the eighth and Michael A. Taylor took Pat Neshek deep to left and off the foul pole for a two-run blast that made it 6-5 Nats!!
• Matt Albers came on and earned the save. Ballgame. 6-5 Nationals.
NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:
- Washington’s Nationals started the day 23-12 with the best record in the National League and second-best record in the majors, though they fell to 23-13 with a loss in the first game of two.
- Washington’s offense led the majors in runs scored (215), AVG (.283), OBP (.359), SLG (.488), and RBIs (211) heading into today’s doubleheader.
- Nationals’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman started the day leading the majors in AVG (.397), SLG (.817), RBIs (36), hits (50), multi-hit games (17) and extra-base hits (27), and home runs (tied, 13).
- Phillies’ outfielder Aaron Altherr had reached in 22 of 42 plate appearances heading into today’s doubleheader, for a .524 OBP in May.
- Washington trailed Philadelphia 110-122 in the all-time series between the two teams before the start of today’s doubleheader, but the Nationals have dominated the Phillies over the past few seasons with a 71-51 record against their NL East rivals since 2011.
- Max Scherzer started Game 2 of the doubleheader with a streak of eight straight starts against the Phillies in which he’d allowed 2 ER or fewer, with a 1.90 ERA in 52 IP over that stretch.
- In today’s Phillies-themed “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Philly 1B Tommy Joseph started today’s doubleheader with a .333/.419/.611 line... since April 20th.
- Heading into today’s doubleheader, the Phillies had dropped 18 of their last 23 games against the Nationals.
Nationals now 24-13