In his first five starts this season, Washington Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer was called upon to try to help bring an end to three and five-game losing streaks. In start No. 6, the three-time Cy Young winner was once again asked play the role of stopper, as the Nats tried to end a four-game losing streak in the series finale with the Giants after San Francisco took the first two of three this week in AT&T Park.
Scherzer tossed a complete game shutout against Atlanta’s Braves to bring the five-game losing streak to an end back on April 9th, and he held the Colorado Rockies two runs on one hit in seven innings on the mound in his April 14th start to earn the win in a 6-2 game that ended the three-game skid.
Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters before Wednesday’s game that Scherzer approached each outing with the same intensity regardless of the circumstances.
“Whether we’re winning or losing, Max goes out there and competes, and he gives you a chance to win every time he goes out there, and that’s the beauty of Max,” Martinez said.
“I played with one of the best pitchers, I think, that pitched in the game, [Greg] Maddux, and it was the same way.
“It’s hard to compare them, but I see Max every day, and he’s right up there being one of the best.”
This time out, the 33-year-old right-hander took the mound (4-1) on the season, with a 1.36 ERA, a 1.93 FIP, seven walks (1.91 BB/9), 47 Ks (12.82 K/9), and a .155/.216/.267 line against over 33 innings. He had a 3-0 lead before he threw his first pitch, courtesy of an RBI single by Matt Adams and a two-run double by Andrew Stevenson.
After a scoreless first by Scherzer, Brandon Crawford and Nick Hundley hit back-to-back, one-out doubles off the Nationals’ starter in the second, 3-1, but by the time he took the mound in the fourth it was 6-1 in the Nats’ favor, and when he came out for the fifth it was an 8-1 game.
Scherzer was up to 72 pitches after he worked around his second walk of the game in a 17-pitch bottom of the fifth, and he took the mound in the sixth with a 10-1 lead, but Brandon Belt lined a one-out triple to center and scored on an RBI double to right by Pablo Sandoval, 10-2.
Scherzer picked up his 10th K with his 99th pitch of the game and 27th pitch of the sixth.
That was it for the Nationals’ starter against the Giants.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 99 P, 74 S, 3/2 GO/FO.
“That was fun, when you have a guy like Max taking the mound,” Martinez said after what ended up a 15-2 win in which the Nationals scored 14 of 15 on two-out hits, went 7 for 19 with runners in scoring position, and matched their output from the previous five games.
“The boys came out to play today, and like I said, they’ve been swinging the bats well, today we just got hits, and the timely hits, so it was good. A good day for all of them.”
“Our bats just came out and we got contributions up and down the line today,” Scherzer told reporters.
“Stevenson had a huge day, especially there in the first, to get that three-spot there early, that’s always huge, and then Matty Adams hitting that bomb to go up 6-1, that really does the number for the team, that really gets momentum, and when you get that as a starting pitcher, you just want to go out there, get up those zeroes, and get the offense back in and have everyone running to the bat rack.”
The combination of strong pitching and explosive offense was a tough one for the Giants.
“Early we were having some pretty good at bats,” Bruce Bochy said after the Giants’ loss.
“But his stuff picked up too and he started hitting his spots better, and the overall stuff I thought got better.”
“I attacked the zone, first-pitch strikes were up, didn’t fall behind too many guys,” Scherzer said.
“[Pedro Severino] did a great job today of sequencing guys and we were able to get some strikeouts when we needed to, but there [were] a couple of things that I didn’t execute quite well, I’ve been wanting to really kind of execute my slider better, and I hung an 0-2 slider that was for a double, but those are things that — you’re going to have mistakes, make them, and no matter who you make them to you get punished.”