In his previous two starts before Tuesday’s outing in LA’s Dodger Stadium, right-hander Max Scherzer allowed two earned runs in and 17 2⁄3 innings, (1.02 ERA), walking two and striking out 24 while holding opposing hitters to a .136/.177/.237 line in back-to-back wins over the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants.
Scherzer went 8 2⁄3 at home against the Padres and threw a complete game against the Giants on the road in AT&T Park. He need just 100 pitches total in nine innings of work in San Francisco.
“He had his slider working, he had his sinker, his up-and-away fastball, I mean, he had everything working,” Dusty Baker told reporters after Scherzer’s sixth win, “which is evident when you throw 100 pitches in nine innings. He had everything working.”
Scherzer said he was just pounding the zone, throwing strikes early and getting quick outs.
Show up to work. Strike out 10+. Rest. pic.twitter.com/LWlJM175t3— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 7, 2017
“Just being able to locate the fastball early in the count,” he explained, “and because I was pounding the zone I could tell that they were wanting to come out and try to do damage on that first pitch. And there was a lot of first-pitch contact tonight, and when you get those first pitch outs that really saves your pitch count and really makes you efficient.”
Scherzer took the mound in Dodger Stadium with a 1-0 lead courtesy of Trea Turner, who reached on an infield single off Brandon McCarthy then stole second and third before scoring on a sac fly by Bryce Harper, 1-0.
Scherzer struck out the first six batters he retired early in Tuesday night’s outing against the Dodgers in LA, though he gave up a run in the home-half of the first, 1-1.
He added three Ks in the third inning, for nine total overall on 53 pitches, with one of them a called strike three on a passed ball, and then after the Nationals took a 2-1 lead on a sac fly by Daniel Murphy in the top of the fourth, Scherzer added two more Ks in the Dodgers’ half of the fourth for 11 strikeouts on a total of 72 pitches after four innings.
Scherzer was up to 12 Ks after he struck Dodgers’ catcher Yasmani Grandal out for the third time on the night in a 1-2-3 fifth, and he added his 13th in a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth.
He was up to ten-straight Dodgers’ batters retired and 14 Ks overall when he struck Austin Barnes out with a 1-2 slider in what ended up a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, 11-in-a-row set down.
That was it for Scherzer, who handed a 2-1 lead to the Nationals’ bullpen.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 14 Ks, 105 P, 73 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
Oliver Perez retired the Dodgers in order in the bottom of the eighth inning, and Koda Glover handled the ninth, working around a single for a scoreless frame and striking Yasiel Puig out to end the game.
Glover and Puig had words after the Dodgers’ outfielder chased a 3-2 slider out of the zone for the final out.
Should be an interesting series finale tomorrow. Nationals take two straight in LA with a 2-1 win over the Dodgers. Stephen Strasburg vs Clayton Kershaw at 3:10 PM EDT.
Nationals now 37-20