Acting Nationals’ manager Chris Speier talked before last night’s series opener with San Diego about his admiration for Max Scherzer’s approach to the game and even touched on Scherzer’s at times animated discussions with some managers, including Dusty Baker, who have gone out to the mound to ask if the two-time Cy Young Award winner is able to finish off an inning or a start.
“The competitiveness, the gutsy way he goes about pitching every single time out there, he does not want to come out and you love that,” Speier said in his pregame press conference.
Asked if he’d given any thought to the fact that he might have to go out to the mound and talk to Scherzer at some point, Speier joked that he was hoping he would be able to avoid that situation.
“I’m hoping we don’t get there,” Speier said. “I’m looking for a nine-inning complete game. It may take 200 pitches, but he’s in there.”
He almost got a complete game out of his starter, though Scherzer ran out of gas with two out in the ninth, loading the bases with a one-out single and walk, and a two-out hit-by-pitch. Speier visited the mound after the walk put two runners on in what was a 5-1 game at the time, then went to the bullpen after the HBP.
The second time out, Scherzer didn’t make an argument for staying in the game.
“The first time was he wanted it,” Speier explained when he was asked about the conversations.
“I would have been booed like crazy had I taken him and the thought about a complete game entered my mind, so I gave him an opportunity to try.”
While he didn’t get the complete game, Scherzer did manage to strike out 13 batters on 108 pitches, earning the win with another impressive performance.
Speier said he thought early on that his starter might have a special night.
“I think when it started — he had a good, live fastball,” Speier said, “when he started pounding that slider for strikes, that’s a real good sign, you’re looking at something probably pretty special might happen.”
Scherzer’s 13 Ks were special. So was the atmosphere in the nation’s capital, with the fans cheering, “Let’s Go Max! Let’s Go Max!” when he tried to finish the Padres off in the ninth.
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