Max Scherzer recorded his 2,000th career strikeout, reached double-digits in Ks for the fourth straight start, the seventh time this season, and the 56th time in his career, but Texas Rangers’ journeyman right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx matched Washington’s ace through seven innings, with the starters giving up one run each.
It remained a 1-1 tie until the top of the eighth. Scherzer put two on with one out, Oliver Perez walked the bases loaded, and Blake Treinen and Matt Wieters got their signals mixed, leading to a passed ball on Treinen’s first pitch, and the go-ahead run scoring, 2-1 Texas.
Elvis Andrus’ triple off Treinen in the next at bat brought in two more, and a sacrifice fly by Nomar Mazara gave the Rangers 5-1 lead and eventually, a sweep of the three-game set in D.C.
Nationals now 38-24
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
• Max Scherzer tossed a scoreless top of the first, working around a leadoff single, and by the time he took the mound in the second he had a 1-0 lead, courtesy of a leadoff home run by Brian Goodwin, who crushed an 0-1 fastball from Austin Bibens-Dirkx, and sent a solo shot into the right field bullpen for his second home run of the year.
• Shin-Soo Choo, who homered in the ninth inning of Saturday’s win for the Rangers, took Scherzer deep to center field in the third for his second home run of the series and his ninth of 2017 on a 98 mph 2-2 fastball with two down, tying it up at 1-1.
• Max Scherzer’s 5th K of the day, on a 1-2 slider to Nomar Mazara, was the 2,000th K of his career, tying him with Andy Benes at No. 79 on the all-time list of strikeout leaders. Next up at No 78: Catfish Hunter (2012 Ks).
• Bibens-Dirkx, who spent a season in the Nationals’ system back in 2012, and debuted in the majors with the Rangers this season at 32, held the Nationals to two hits (one of them Goodwin’s leadoff home run) in his first five innings of work, throwing 65 pitches (to Scherzer’s 77 through five).
• After a 1-2-3 sixth by Bibens-Dirkx, the right-hander had retired 17-straight batters after Brian Goodwin’s leadoff home run and Bryce Harper’s single in the second at bat of the game.
• Bibens-Dirkx got up to 19-straight set down before Anthony Rendon broke up the streak with a two-out single to left in the Nationals’ seventh. Adam Lind walked to bring Matt Wieters up with two on and two out,
• Austin Bibens Dirkx’s Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 94 P, 59 S, 11/4 GO/FO.
• Delino DeShields reached on an error with one out in the Rangers’ eighth and pinch hitter Jurickson Profar walked in the next at bat, ending Scherzer’s outing.
• Oliver Perez took over and Texas pulled a double steal, putting runners on second and third with two out. Shin-Soo Choo walked to load the bases and Blake Treinen came on and got signals mixed with catcher Matt Wieters, who was not ready for the pitch he got and let it get by him after it bounced off his wrist, allowing a run to score on the passed ball and a triple by Elvis Andrus followed in the next at bat driving in two more, 4-1 Rangers. Nomar Mazara’s sac fly made it 5-1.
• Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 109 P 78 S, 9/3 GO/FO.
• Joe Blanton returned to the mound, after coming off the DL today, with a scoreless top of the ninth, but the Nationals came up empty in the bottom of the inning.
• Ballgame. Final score, 5-1 Rangers.
NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:
- Washington’s 38-23 record on the year after back-to-back losses to the Texas Rangers, is the second-best record in the National League, behind only the Colorado Rockies (41-23).
- Washington has now gone 61 games without being shut out, remaining the only NL team to avoid being shut out this season. [ed. note - “Totally jinxy, I know.”]
- Washington’s offense started the day leading the NL in AVG (.274), OBP (.341), SLG (.467), HRs (90), and RBIs (325), while ranking second in runs scored (332), hits (558), and extra base hits (222).
- Max Scherzer was making his first start against the Rangers since 2013 today in the nation’s capital.
- Scherzer started the day with 1,995 Ks on his career, his 2,000 would tie him for No. 79 on the list of all-time strikeout leaders with Andy Benes.
- Texas is 11-18 (.379 winning%) on the road this season, the sixth-lowest road winning percentage among AL teams.
- Elvis Andrus extended his current hit streak to 14 games on Saturday, and it is the longest active hit streak in the majors right now.
- Adrian Beltre has hit home runs in 40 different MLB parks, one of only eight players to do so, but he still hadn’t homered in Nationals Park heading into today’s series finale.
Nationals now 38-24