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Max Scherzer retires 20-straight Rockies after early home run in Nationals’ 6-2 win

Max Scherzer struck out 11 in seven innings, retiring the final 20 batters he faced in a 6-2 win over the Rockies that snapped the Nationals’ three-game losing streak...

Colorado Rockies v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Coming off a complete game shutout which brought an end to a five-game losing streak, Max Scherzer took the mound this afternoon in the nation’s capital trying to help avoid a fourth straight loss for the Washington Nationals, who’d dropped eight of ten overall.

Scherzer shut the Atlanta Braves down last time out, giving up just two hits while striking out 10 of the 28 batters he faced.

“Max being Max,” Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez said after the Nats’ ace played the role of stopper.

“He picked us up tonight, he really did. We were able to score some runs early for him, and he went out and did his thing.”

His “thing” as Martinez explained it before today’s game against the Colorado Rockies, is keeping hitters off-balance and guessing.

“His ability to keep guys off-balance, his ability to pitch up in the strike zone, all that takes into account. He’s really good. He’s not afraid to pitch in, which makes him very effective.”

Colorado Rockies v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Nationals were in need of picking up again this afternoon, when Scherzer took on the Rockies in the nation’s capital, but he gave up a four-pitch, one-out walk early in the top of the first, then surrendered a two-run home run in the at bat that followed on a 94 mph 0-1 fastball to Charlie Blackmon that cleared the out-of-town scoreboard in right field, 2-0.

The Nationals scored their first run in the fourth, 2-1, and Scherzer retired 14-straight batters after the Blackmon homer, finishing up the fifth inning with nine strikeouts overall on just 78 pitches, and he set three more down in a nine-pitch sixth, giving him 17-straight outs.

After the Nationals put four runs up in the bottom of the sixth, 5-2, Scherzer came back out with a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh, setting 20-straight down to end his outing at 103 pitches.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 Ks, 1 HR, 103 P, 70 S, 4/2 GO/FO.

What did Martinez see from his starter in outing No. 4 of 2018?

“I watched Max being Max,” the manager said. “He competes, whether it’s pitching, hitting, baserunning, he comes out ready to compete every day.”

Once he surrendered the early home run, Martinez said, Scherzer seemed to decide that it was all he was giving up.

“As soon as he gave up the home run I looked at [Pitching Coach Derek Lilliquist] and I told Lilly, I said, ‘His ball is coming out hot today, so he’ll keep us right there, we’ve just got to score runs.”

Scherzer too said he was determined to hold the Rockies to the two runs.

“Obviously that’s your first reaction, but you’ve just got to work inning by inning, just keep grinding, keep fighting, keep competing, and you know try to keep throwing up zeroes,” Scherzer said.

“Keep working quick,” he added, “... and let the goose eggs keep going, and that seems to provide momentum for the offense. Even when you face some good pitching, if you keep the momentum on your side and just keep going back out there and doing your job, I’ve got enough confidence that our guys can grind out some ABs and find a way to scratch some runs across.

“For the first half of this game it was a tight game, 2-1 ballgame, and fortunately our guys were able to get to [Rockies’ starter Jon Gray], and that’s why this way such a great team win.”