MAD MAX: A few hours after he was named the Washington Nationals’ Opening Day starter for the third time since he signed on in D.C., Max Scherzer went out and got knocked around in a Grapefruit League start against the Miami Marlins last week, giving up six hits (three home runs) and six runs total in a five-inning start that did nothing to take away from his excitement about getting the nod to start Game 1 of 162 next week against the Reds.
“It’s always an honor to start Opening Day,” Scherzer told reporters in Florida.
“It’s a great day of baseball. Everybody’s got those jitters about what’s going to happen in the upcoming year and you get to toe the mound. You’re the first one out there and it’s an exciting time. It doesn’t get old. You always have a smile on your face any time you get that nod and so obviously I look forward to pitching in Cincinnati.”
Before that, however, he had to make one more start in West Palm Beach, against the same Fish that knocked him around in his previous outing.
Scherzer started strong, with four scoreless on just 40 pitches, striking out six of the first 12 batters he faced before the Marlins got to the righty in the fifth with a leadoff single by Erick Campbell and a one-out, two-run home run by Yadiel Rivera that put Miami up 2-1.
The Marlins added four singles and two runs in the sixth, increasing the lead to 4-1, but Scherzer came back out for the seventh, picking up his ninth strikeout in a 1-2-3 frame which left him at 92 pitches total on the day. Next stop, Cincinnati.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 9 Ks, 1 HR, 92 P, 1/6 GO/FO.
Run(s): Matt Adams singled to start the Nationals’ second, moved to second on an error on a Brian Goodwin grounder, and took third on a single by Wilmer Difo before scoring when Miami’s third baseman Eric Campbell committed the second of two errors in the inning and third error of the game by the Marlins to that point.
The 5th and 6th errors of the game by the Marlins led to two runs scoring in the bottom of the seventh inning with Matt Reynolds singling to start the inning, taking third on an error on a Moises Sierra grounder, and scoring on a groundout by Trea Turner before Sierra too came around on an error on a throw to first on a Bryce Harper grounder, 4-3.
No Homers Club: Shawn Kelley, who gave up five home runs (1-2-2) in his previous three outings before today, retired the Marlins in order in a quick eighth inning, and Brandon Kintzler tossed a quick, 1-2-3 ninth but the Nationals came up empty in the bottom of the inning.
Final Score: 4-3 Marlins