Washington Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer bounced back from a less-than-impressive outing last week in Atlanta with a gem of a start against the Braves tonight in the nation’s capital.
Scherzer tossed a complete game shutout on 102 pitches, striking out ten and making the two runs the Nationals scored on a two-run Howie Kendrick double in the first inning hold up as the Nats brought their five-game losing streak to an end with a 2-0 win.
Mad Max vs ATL Round 2: Max Scherzer was not at his best last time out, giving up six hits, two walks, and five runs, (two of them earned) over five innings on the mound in Atlanta, in which he K’d seven and threw 110 pitches.
Asked about the un-Scherzer-like outing, Davey Martinez told the reporter who asked that what he saw was the right-hander grinding on a night he didn’t have great stuff.
“I thought -- you saw Max not being Max — but I saw Max grinding it out,” Martinez said, “... and showing his competitiveness. He didn’t give in. He left a couple pitches up, and he talked about it. But you saw Max get to 110 pitches and grind it out and try to keep us in the game.”
Tonight in Nationals Park, Scherzer was facing the Braves again, and he was getting much better results, tossing five scoreless on six pitches, striking out six of the first 16 hitters he faced as the Nats jumped out to a 2-0 lead. A 10-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth left the righty at 70 total, and he retired the side in order in a 12-pitch seventh inning to keep the visiting team off of the board.
Scherzer picked up his seventh and eighth Ks in a scoreless, 12-pitch seventh, retired the Braves in order in a 10-pitch eighth that left him at 92 total, and came back out in the top ninth with a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 frame, picking up two Ks and retiring 22 of the final 23 batters he faced.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 Ks, 102 P, 72 S, 8/4 GO/FO.
Rendon + Harper + Kendrick: Anthony Rendon battled for 10 pitches before lining a fastball from Julio Teheran to left-center for a one-out double in the top of the first, and Teheran did not want anything to do with Bryce Harper (see below), so he walked the Nationals’ slugger to get to Ryan Zimmerman, who K’d looking in front of Howie Kendrick, who hit an 0-1 slider by third base for a two-out, two-run double and a 2-0 lead early in the series opener.
BFFs pic.twitter.com/xqkghOMJUd— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 10, 2018
Harper vs Teheran: Last night’s three-hit, two-walk game (which included a two-run homer), left Bryce Harper with an MLB-leading six home runs early this season, and a major league leading 1.000 SLG and 1.535 OPS. He was also ranked first in walks (tied, 13), second in RBIs (12), third in OBP (.535) and tenth in AVG (.357).
Harper hit one of his six homers this year off of Julio Teheran last week in Atlanta’s SunTrust Park, leaving him 18 for 39 (.462/.553/1.154) with three doubles and eight homers off of the Braves’ right-hander in 47 plate appearances in their respective careers.
Teheran didn’t last long in that outing, giving up six hits (three of them homers), three walks, and five earned runs in just 2 1⁄3 innings before he was lifted.
Harper took a four-pitch walk in their first matchup of the night in the first, after a double by Anthony Rendon in the previous at bat.
In his second at bat in the third, Harper had a runner on with one out, and took a second four-pitch walk.
After taking nine balls in the first two at bats, Harper was swinging in at bat No. 3 on the night, spitting on a ball in the dirt, swinging through an 0-1 change, and popping out to right field on an 0-2 fastball, 0 for 1, 2 BB.
Teheran left the game before facing Harper again...
Julio Teheran’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 Ks, 96 P, 65 S, 6/2 GO/FO.
Freeman vs Washington: Freddie Freeman went 5 for 10 with two doubles and a home run in the first season of the season with the Nationals last week in SunTrust Park, (and 2 for 3 with two doubles off tonight’s starter Max Scherzer) leaving him 140 for 424 (.330/.400/.547) with 36 doubles and 18 home runs in 118 games against Atlanta’s NL East rivals in his career, and 7 for 24 (.292/.414/.667) with three doubles and two home runs off Scherzer in 29 plate appearances against the right-hander in their head-to-head matchups over the years.
Scherzer won the first battle tonight, ending a five-pitch at bat with a 2-2 changeup low in the zone that was called strike three by home plate ump C.B. Bucknor, and got Freeman to pop up for the final out of the fourth on a 95 mph 1-2 fastball up high inside.
Scherzer picked up another K from Freeman in the top of the seventh, throwing an 88 mph 3-2 cutter by the big first baseman for his second K from Freeman and 7th strikeout overall on the night.
SCHERTURNER: Max Scherzer singled to start the Nationals’ seventh, then stole second base off righty Peter Moylan, picking up his first career steal. That is all.
@Max_Scherzer just stole 2nd base! pic.twitter.com/Pa24t5K67v— MLB (@MLB) April 10, 2018
Final Score: 2-0 Nationals
Nationals now 5-5