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Washington Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer is a different kind of cat... but good “different”

“I’d rather be out there competing in pain than be on the DL.” - Max Scherzer. “That’s a warrior mentality, kind of.” - Dusty Baker...

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

There is a reason they call him “Mad Max”. Max Scherzer is... uhhhhh.... different. But a good kind of different. Scherzer is a little sick... but a good, ultra-competitive brand of sick?

Scherzer took a comebacker flush off his right calf early in last week’s outing against the Milwaukee Brewers in Miller Park, but then stayed in for five innings before Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker and Pitching Coach Mike Maddux decided that was enough from Washington’s ace.

“This is just part of the game,” Scherzer told reporters after holding Brewers’ hitters to one run on two hits in a 75-pitch outing in what ended up a 3-2 Nationals’ win in which the right-hander received no decision.

“I’d rather be out there competing in pain than be on the DL, so for me today was fun,” Scherzer added, with a laugh that was a little scary.

“Today was fun to be out there having to pitch through that.

“You’ve got to go out there and give it everything you’ve got, sometimes this happens and you’ve just got to make the best of it.”

“That’s a warrior mentality, kind of,” Dusty Baker told reporters before Scherzer’s start against the Philadelphia Phillies last night in the nation’s capital.

“‘I’m injured but I’m enjoying the pain that I’m under,’” Baker said, offering his own take on Scherzer’s internal monologue, “‘and then another challenge is to see if I can pitch through this pain. And then when I pitch through that pain and then there’s nothing else that you can hurt me with.’ That’s the mentality that Max has.”

“You can think away pain, I believe that, I’ve done it, so therefore I try to help transfer that thought process that was given to me to them, or some have it automatically.”

Scherzer struggled early against the Phillies, giving up three walks and a three-run home run by Philly right fielder Nick Williams in a 28-pitch first inning, but Scherzer settled in and retired 14 of the next 17 batters he faced to get through the fifth with only the three runs allowed.

Williams singled to start the sixth inning, but was doubled up, then Hyun Soo Kim hit a line drive double to right field and scored after a hit-by-pitch on Jorge Alfaro when J.P. Crawford hit a two-out line drive double to right field to make it 7-4 in the Nationals’ favor.

Scherzer was up to 104 pitches total after the 17-pitch sixth, and done for the night.

• Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 104 P, 71 S, 3/4 GO/FO.

“Max was uncharacteristically off early,” Baker said after what ended up an 11-10 win.

“He was wild early, you never see Max open a game with two walks, then the three-run homer but our offense bailed him out tonight, and this is what a team does, and you score what you need and I’m glad it happened in the first inning and not in the middle innings cause that gave us time to come back.”