Max Scherzer had a streak of eight-straight starts with two earned runs or less allowed snapped in his final outing of the first half last Friday in night in the nation’s capital.
Scherzer was (6-2) with a 0.89 ERA, 10 walks (1.48 BB/9), 87 strikeouts (12.84 K/9), and a .117/.180/.194 line against in 61 innings pitched over that stretch, with double digits in Ks in seven of the eight starts.
Scherzer received no decision in his start at home in a 5-4 win over the Atlanta Braves last time out before tonight, giving up six hits, a walk, and four earned runs in 7 2⁄3 IP, over which he collected 10 Ks.
He talked after the outing about knowing he would need to make adjustments in the second half of the season, since the rest of the league would adjust to what he’s been doing through the first 18 starts of the 2017 campaign.
“It’s going to be a fight in the second half,” Scherzer said, “because they’ve seen the way I’m pitching a little bit differently, and now they’re making adjustments to that.
“It’s going to be a grind in the second half, especially in the division, they’re going to keep grinding you apart, so I’ve got to find new ways to even getting better.”
After a scoreless inning of work in the All-Star Game, Scherzer started the second half of his third season with the Nationals in Cincinnati last night, making his first career in Great American Ball Park in the second of four with the Reds.
It didn’t start particularly well for Scherzer. Billy Hamilton jumped on the first pitch of the game from Scherzer, lining a double to right-center field, and Zack Cozart worked an eight-pitch walk out of the Nationals’ starter to put two on in front of Joey Votto.
Scherzer got a swinging strike three from Votto with a 1-2 changeup, however, then dropped an 0-2 change off the low outside corner on Adam Duvall for a second straight swinging K, before throwing a fastball by Scooter Gennett to end a 19-pitch first.
After a leadoff walk in the second, Scherzer added another three strikeouts, throwing a 2-2 slider inside by Scott Schebler, another two-strike (0-2) change by the Reds’ catcher, Tucker Barnhart, and an 0-2 slider by the opposing starter, Luis Castillo, for the sixth K in two innings.
Hamilton was 2 for 2 with a double and a single after he singled to right off Scherzer to start the third, on the first pitch he saw in his second at bat, and there were two batters on again after another walk by Cozart, but Scherzer retired the next three in a row again, striking out two for eight Ks total on 62 pitches in three scoreless.
Scherzer collected his ninth K in a scoreless fourth, and his 10th in a 13-pitch fifth in which he worked around a questionable two-out walk to Votto.
It was his 12th double-digit strikeout start of the season in 19 outings and the 61st 10+K start of his career.
He was up to 95 pitches after he retired the Reds in order in a nine-pitch sixth.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 10 Ks, 95 P, 67 S, 0/3 GO/FO.
The Nationals scored seven runs in the seventh to take a 10-0 lead, but the Reds rallied for seven runs late to make a game of it before the Nats wrapped up their second win in a row in Cincinnati, 10-7 final.
“We did a great job the first three innings,” Reds’ skipper Bryan Price told reporters after the game. “We didn’t have anything to show for it, and Scherzer made huge pitches with guys on base, I mean he really did.
“We got his pitch count up over 60, kind of well into the sixties after three innings, and then the next three, in particular the fourth and fifth, he was able to really limit the number of pitches he threw and it got him into the sixth.”
“Scherzer gave us all he had,” Dusty Baker said after the win.
“He pitched in the All-Star Game, and we knew we were going to have a short outing for him today, shorter than normal, and he got out of jams in the first and third, mirror-image-type jams.
“Billy Hamilton, he got on, and Cozart walked, and then you’re flirting with danger with Joey Votto, but he pitched him tough. Scherzer threw a heck of a game.”
Scherzer got the win too, improving to (11-5) on the season with a 2.01 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 31 walks (2.08 BB/9), and 183 Ks (12.26 K/9) in 134 1⁄3 innings pitched.