Max Scherzer set a season high with 14 Ks in the Washington Nationals’ 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. He reached double-digits in Ks for the 6th time this season and the 55th time in his career, and as the Nats PR folks noted in an update on Twitter, he made the 5th start of his career with 14+ Ks and no earned runs allowed, since the only run he gave up scored after an error by Daniel Murphy.
The only pitchers with more starts of 14+ Ks and 0 ER?: Randy Johnson (19), Nolan Ryan (16), Pedro Martinez (8), Roger Clemens (7). - via Nats PR on Twitter.
In his last three starts, Scherzer’s collected 38 Ks in 24 2⁄3 innings pitched (13.86 K/9).
Scherzer got 20 swinging strikes from Dodgers’ hitters, 11 with his slider (21 swings); six with his fastball; three with his changeup, and he threw 29 of 33 sliders for strikes (87.9%).
Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker told reporters after the Nats’ 2-1 win, that Scherzer wasn’t particularly sharp at the start.
“He struggled some early,” Baker said, “then he found his control in the middle innings, and if you don’t get to the elite pitchers early — then [you] let them settle in, and, boy he was great, and it was a great game to watch and you know that whoever is pitching against him is going to pitch his best game.
“Max is not going to give up many, so the key is that we got the runners in from third twice and that was the difference in the game.”
The fact that he was able to pile up Ks while not being particularly sharp early?
“He can get sharp when he needs to be,” Baker added.
“Early, he had quite a few pitches early, and the strikeouts don’t help with your pitch total. Max was outstanding and I hope we get the same thing out of [Stephen Strasburg] tomorrow.”
Scherzer struck out the first six batters he retired, had nine Ks after three innings, was up to 11 after four, 12 after five, 13 after six, and 14 after seven.
He told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, that he started attacking when the Dodgers were swinging early in the count.
“I knew I just needed to execute early in the count,” he said. “You got the sense they didn’t want to get to two strikes. And they were going to be aggressive. That’s where [Matt] Wieters and I were anticipating that, to know what pitch we wanted to throw.”
“Scherzer is one of the best in the game. I think he punched out 14 tonight, and was really good,” Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts said.
Roberts said it was a difficult night for Dodgers’ hitters since Scherzer had all his pitches working.
“He did. He did,” Roberts said. “And obviously he’s on a nice run right now, but I know that when he has an opportunity to face us he’s going to bring his best and he did tonight. This is a guy that can strike any pitch that he throws, was getting ahead of guys, and when he gets ahead he’s going to wipe you out and he did.”