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Max Scherzer reaches double digit strikeouts in fifth straight start...

Max Scherzer struck out ten Mets’ batters on Friday night, reaching double digits in strikeouts for the fifth straight start.

MLB: Washington Nationals at New York Mets Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Max Scherzer took the mound tonight in Citi Field with a streak of four-straight starts with double-digit Ks though he had a three-start win-streak snapped the last time out in a 5-1 loss to the Texas Rangers.

In his previous four outings, the Nationals’ 32-year-old ace had a 1.13 ERA, five walks (1.41 BB/9), 48 Ks (13.50 K/9) and a .126/.171/.216 line against over 32 innings, and Scherzer was (4-2) in seven career starts in Citi Field before tonight, with a 1.90 ERA, 13 walks (2.47 BB/9), 70 strikeouts (13.31 K/9) and a .154/.228/.272 line against in 47 13 IP in the Mets’ home.

Scherzer looked a little shaky early tonight in New York, hitting two batters and issuing a walk over the first few innings, but he completed four scoreless innings on 50 pitches and then started to get locked in, striking out four straight between the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings, and he was up to six strikeouts overall, with Ks from five of six batters after he struck pitcher Steven Matz out to end a fifth scoreless frame.

Scherzer dialed up his third double play grounder to get out of a two-on, one out jam in the sixth, finishing six scoreless on 79 pitches, with the Nationals ahead 4-0 on the strength of three home runs, one each by Matt Wieters, Michael A. Taylor and Anthony Rendon, whose two-run blast was the only one with a runner on base.

Scherzer added two more strikeouts in the seventh, for eight total in seven scoreless, but he hung a 1-1 curve to Jose Reyes in the first at bat of the eighth and gave up a solo shot to right field that got the Mets on the board, down 4-1.

Scherzer had to battle for eleven pitches in his final at bat of the night in the eighth, but he struck Yoenis Cespedes out with a 3-2 slider for out No. 3 and his 10th K on his 118th pitch, reaching double digit strikeouts for the fifth straight start.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 118 P, 84 S, 3/5 GO/FO.

Dusty Baker, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr, talked before the second of four with the Mets about the ability to finish strong setting Scherzer apart.

“I would think certain words like ‘perseverance,’ ‘determination,’ what great shape he is in, and how hard he works,” Baker said.

“Seems to get stronger as the game goes on. Plus, he wants to be great. That has to be your first thought in your mind, and wanting to win. He has that desire to win.”

He also helps makes things easier on his manager, Baker explained, and the bullpen.

“Max, as a general rule, makes it easier for me to manage the game before he pitches,” Baker said, “not only his game, but I can go almost full bullpen before he pitches, and usually I can go full bullpen again after he pitches, because usually most of my bullpen is off those two days.”

Baker needed just an inning of work from Shawn Kelley to finish the Mets off tonight.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 118 P, 84 S, 3/5 GO/FO.

“He was dealing,” Baker said after the game, though the at bat against Cespedes took Scherzer farther than the manager wanted. “Cespedes was fouling off those pitches, you know that he wanted Cespedes and Cespedes wanted him and that was a classic battle with a guy that was tired, but he reached back and got some more.”

Mets’ skipper Terry Collins talked after the loss about watching Scherzer get locked in after the first couple innings.

“You saw in the third inning he started getting it going,” Collins said.

“Mechanics, just pitches and location, and he started mowing us down.

“He’s one of the best in the game. You cannot let him get the lead, just how we saw last night, those great pitchers, they get the lead and they can chew you up.”

“He’s not a guy to waste pitches,” Collins continued. “I mean, you better be ready to hit, because he’s coming at you and he’s coming at you with whatever he’s got.

“He’s not afraid to pound the strike zone, and you just watch him, when you watch his demeanor on the mound, when he starts walking around with that big long pace he’s got, he’s locked in.”

Scherzer was locked in for most of the night, but he was really dialed in during his final battle of the night.

Baker was asked if there was a buzz in the dugout when Scherzer and Cespedes went head-to-head in the eighth.

“The buzz was a buzz of nervousness,” Baker said, “because you wanted him to finish, but you didn’t want him to throw all those pitches to get it done.”