Max Scherzer gave up a two-run home run with one out in the first, then proceeded to retire 20 straight Colorado Rockies as the Washington Nationals rallied from the 2-0 deficit, with a four-run fourth the difference in what ended up a 6-2 win in the nation’s capital.
Scherzer gave up just the one hit in seven innings of work, striking out 11 of the 23 batters he faced in a 103-pitch outing which followed his 102-pitch complete game shutout of the Atlanta Braves last week in Nationals Park.
Complete game?: Perhaps the most impressive thing about Max Scherzer’s complete game shutout last time out on the mound before today, was the efficiency of the outing. One start after he threw 110 pitches in five innings, Scherzer went nine on 102, giving up just two hits and striking out 10 of the 28 batters he faced.
That’s even more efficient than his stated goal when takes the hill.
“You can’t get too caught up in trying to pitch a complete game,” Scherzer said after start No. 3 of 2018, “because that’s hard to do. You’re just trying to go out there and give seven innings, 105 pitches. That’s a good outing, and so for me, that’s kind of what I was shooting for, at least finish seven. The fact that they made those first pitch outs, that was the reason why I was able to go the distance.”
Scherzer had four one-pitch at bats in that outing, three two-pitch ABs, and 13 that went 3-4 pitches deep, allowing him to keep the pitch count down and go the distance.
Washington’s ace didn’t get off to a great start this afternoon, however, issuing a four-pitch, one-out walk to Gerardo Parra in the first in front of Charlie Blackmon, who hit an 0-1 heater over the out-of-town scoreboard in right for a two-run blast that made it 2-0 Rockies early.
Max Scherzer, Filthy 89 mph Power Slider (release/movement). pic.twitter.com/148VQaRL8e— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 14, 2018
Scherzer did record three Ks in the first, and he picked up three more in the second, getting his first six outs via strikeout. He was up to eight Ks and 11-straight batters set down after he retired the Rockies in order in the third and fourth innings, nine Ks and 14-straight outs after a 22-pitch fifth, and 17-straight outs after retiring the side in order in a nine-pitch sixth.
Given a 5-2 lead to work with after a four-run inning for the Nationals in the sixth, Scherzer took the mound in the seventh and picked up his 10th and 11th Ks on the way to a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 frame that gave him 20 outs in a row.
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.
Max Scherzer retired his final 20 batters in a row.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 14, 2018
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No offense: In spite of the Nationals’ recent struggles at the plate, Davey Martinez remained confident that his team would turn things around after last night’s loss, telling reporters it can happen in a hurry and just takes a few things going your way.
“Honestly,” Martinez said. “a couple hits here and there with runners in scoring position and things start turning around. You saw it in Cincinnati the first series, but other than that, like I said, our starting pitching is doing well. Our bullpen has done really well, so all we’ve got to do is get some clutch hits and we’re going to be in great shape.”
With losses in eight of their last ten before today’s game, they weren’t in great shape yet going into the third of four with the Colorado Rockies, and didn’t generate much offense early, but Matt Wieters hit a 2-0 fastball from Jon Gray out to center field to get the Nationals on the board in the fourth, down 2-1. HR No. 1 of 2018 for the Nats’ catcher.
Matt Wieters (1) off RHP Jon Gray (4) - 105.7 mph, 22 degrees (405 ft Home Run)— MLBBarrelAlert (@MLBBarrelAlert) April 14, 2018
94.5 mph Four-Seamer#Rockies @ #Nationals (B4) pic.twitter.com/Ftt72E3X1Q
Wilmer Difo and Bryce Harper hit back-to-back singles in the first two at bats of the bottom of the sixth, connecting for the fourth and fifth hits of the game off Gray, and one out later, Wieters picked up his second hit and drove in his second run with an RBI single to left that tied things up at 2-2.
With runners on the corners, Michael A. Taylor bunted toward first and brought Harper home ahead off an underhand toss to the catcher by first baseman Ian Desmond, 3-2.
Moises Sierra followed with a two-run liner into the right-center gap, driving Wieters and Taylor in before he was thrown out trying to take third, 5-2. That was it for Gray.
Jon Gray’s Line: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 89 P, 61 S, 4/1 GO/FO.
Bullpen Action: Trea Turner and Ryan Zimmerman hit back-to-back singles in the home-half of the seventh, knocking right-hander Antonio Senzatela out, and Wilmer Difo followed with an RBI single to right off Chris Rusin that made it a 6-2 game.
Ryan Madson took the mound for the Nationals in the eighth, and worked around a one-out single and walk for a scoreless, 23-pitch frame.
Sean Doolittle got the ninth in a non-save situation, and retired the side in order to end it.
Final Score: 6-2 Nationals
Nationals now 7-8