Washington’s bats woke up as the Nationals hit four home runs off Pittsburgh Pirates’ right-hander Chad Kuhl and scored 12 runs on ten hits overall in what ended up a 12-4 win. Max Scherzer held the Bucs to two runs on three hits in 6 1⁄3 innings pitched, and the Nats took their second straight from the Pirates and third in a row overall.
Swashbuckling Scherzer: Max Scherzer took the mound tonight ranked first in strikeouts in the NL (57 Ks), first in K/9 (13.15), ranked third in WHIP (0.85), and ERA (1.62), and BAA (.165), fourth in opponents’ OBP (.227), and sixth in opponents’ SLG (.295). He also had a streak of four straight wins going, over which he’d put up a stingy 1.61 ERA, six walks (1.93 BB/9), 40 Ks (12.86 K/9), and a .128/.196/.245 line against in 28 innings pitched.
While the Nationals jumped out to a 2-0 lead tonight against Chad Kuhl and the Pittsburgh Pirates on solo homers by Wilmer Difo and Matt Adams in the third and fourth, respectively, Scherzer completed five scoreless on 79 pitches, working around two hits and a walk, and striking out six of the first 18 batters he faced.
Scherzer helped his own cause after tossing a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the sixth, hitting a two-out single to left field off Pirates’ righty Tyler Glasnow to drive Howie Kendrick in from third and make it a 7-0 game.
It was 12-0 when he took the mound in the seventh and gave up a leadoff walk to Josh Bell and a two-run home run to right by Corey Dickerson on a 94 mph 2-2 fastball that reached the second deck, 12-2. One out later, Scherzer was done for the night...
Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 106 P, 71 S, 4/3 GO/FO.
Max Scherzer was also 1-for-3 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. pic.twitter.com/rrKNPkZkO3— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 2, 2018
Kuhl (PRONOUNCED cool): Pirates’ right-hander Chad Kuhl, (pronounced “Cool”), tossed six scoreless against the Nationals in his last start in the nation’s capital, back on July 17, 2016, and left the game with a 1-0 lead that the bullpen blew. Kuhl retired 16 of the last 17 batters that he faced in that outing.
Coming into tonight’s start, in the second game of Pittsburgh’s four-game set in D.C., the 25-year-old right-hander was (3-1) in five starts with a 4.55 ERA, 3.88 FIP, eight walks (2.60 BB/9), 25 Ks (8.13 K/9), and a .306/.367/.491 line against in 27 2⁄3 IP.
Wilmer Difo got hold of a full-count fastball from Kuhl in the third and hit a two-out solo shot to right and over the out-of-town scoreboard to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead after three.
Matt Adams hit a 1-0 slider out to the second deck above the bullpen in right in the fourth to put the Nationals up 2-0. No. 4 for Adams.
Max Scherzer reached on an error and Wilmer Difo walked with down out in the fifth, which brought Bryce Harper up with two on, and he got all of a first-pitch sinker and sent a three-run blast over the left field bullpen to make it 5-0 Nationals.
Think Bryce Harper likes the leadoff spot? pic.twitter.com/zbHGvG2rsK— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 2, 2018
One out later, Adams hit his second HR out to center field to make it 6-0 and end Kuhl’s outing.
Chad Kuhl’s Line: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 4 HRs, 83 P, 53 S, 8/2 GO/FO.
Leadoff Bryce: Before tonight, Bryce Harper hadn’t hit in the leadoff spot since 2013, when he put up a .317/.419/.603 line with four doubles and four HRs in 75 plate appearances as a leadoff hitter. In his career, the 25-year-old slugger had just one other PA as a leadoff hitter, when he was a late-game replacement at the top of the order.
In his first trip up tonight, Harper grounded out to first on a 2-2 curve. Well that was fun. Will he lead off an inning again in this game?
Harper flew out to left field in his second plate appearance of the game, but he stepped in with two on and one out in the bottom of the fifth after Max Scherzer reached on an error and Wilmer Difo walked.
Kuhl went with a first-pitch fastball and got way too much plate, thigh-high inside and it went out to left for a three-run blast that made it 5-0 Nationals. Harper’s 9th of 2018, and first since April 16th.
Trea Turner’s Turn: Over his last five games, Trea Turner had reached base in 14 of 24 plate appearances, going 11 for 24 (.524 AVG), with two doubles, three RBIs, three stolen bases, and four runs scored over that stretch.
In his last 16 games, after a slow start, Turner was 23 for 66 (.348 AVG) with six doubles, one triple, four RBIs, nine walks, seven stolen bases, and 10 runs scored.
He took his 10th walk in 17 games and reached base in the 15th of 25 PAs in his first trip to the plate, but was stranded on the basepaths two outs later.
Turner was 0 for 2 with a walk when he stepped in after a free pass to Bryce Harper loaded them up in the sixth, and he hit a fastball to the left-center gap for a three-run double that made it 10-0 Nationals, and the Nats added two more runs before the sixth was over on RBI singles by Matt Adams and Ryan Zimmerman, 12-0.
BULLPEN ACTION: Wander Suero took over for Max Scherzer with one down in the seventh, and in his MLB debut, gave up back-to-back singles but stranded both runners in a 15-pitch outing. Congrats, Wander.
Sammy Solis got the eighth, and worked around a two-out double for a scoreless, 18-pitch frame.
Carlos Torres got the ninth and gave up a one-out double by Colin Moran and a two-out home run by Max Moroff, 12-4. That’s how it ended... after a two-out walk. Ballgame.
Final Score: 12-4 Nationals
Nationals now 14-16