BALTIMORE, MD: Max Scherzer was back to dominating hitters tonight in the series finale in Oriole Park at Camden Yards, holding the Baltimore Orioles to two hits and a walk over eight scoreless innings in which he struck out 12, and Bryce Harper continued to swing a hot bat, hitting his 18th home run of 2018 out the other way in the third for the only run Scherzer needed in what ended up a 2-0 win that gave the Washington Nationals a three-game sweep of the O’s, six straight overall, and 10-straight on the road.
Scherzer vs Orioles: Unbeaten in his last nine starts, over which he put up a 2.23 ERA, 15 walks (2.23 BB/9), 91 Ks (13.50 K/9), and a .167/.234/.319 line against in 60 2⁄3 IP, Nationals’ ace Max Scherzer took the mound tonight in Oriole Park looking to help Washington to a three-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles.
Scherzer gave up a season high in hits (7) and earned runs (4) last time out before tonight, in a win over the Marlins in Miami, but said after the outing that he actually felt good about the start, and the support he received in a 9-5 win.
Faced with an Orioles’ lineup that was right-hand heavy, with 6 of 9 right-handed batters, Scherzer, against whom righties were 17 for 105 (.162 AVG) this season, gave up just one hit the first time through (by left-handed first baseman Chris Davis), striking out five of nine batters as the Nationals jumped out to a 1-0 lead, and he was up to six out of 10 after he’d finished striking out the side in a 14-pitch third.
Scherzer added a strikeout in a 1-2-3 fourth, for seven total, and picked up his eighth (from 16 batters faced) in a 1-2-3 fifth that left him at 74 pitches overall after five scoreless.
He struck Jace Peterson with with a 96 mph 1-2 heater for K No. 9, and was up to 13-straight Orioles set down at the end of a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth that left him at 84 total with just one hit allowed.
Slider set to Max difficulty. pic.twitter.com/NULqRbyVT6— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 31, 2018
Manny Machado lined a one-out double to right in the seventh to snap Scherzer’s streak of retired batters at 14, but he picked up his 10th by striking out Jonathan Schoop, and after a walk to Mark Trumbo, picked up his 11th with a 1-2 change to Chris Davis, and he retired the side in order in a 10-pitch eighth that ended his outing... but not until after he’d picked up K No. 12.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 8.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 Ks, 111 P, 83 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
Hess vs Scherzer: After giving up 14 hits and eight earned runs in 10 2⁄3 innings in his first two major league outings, 24-year-old Orioles’ right-hander David Hess, a 2014 5th Round pick, rebounded with 6 2⁄3 scoreless in start No. 3 in Baltimore’s rotation, holding the Rays to four hits and three walks in 2-0 win on the road in Tampa Bay.
In tonight’s series finale in Oriole Park, the rookie starter was going up against three-time Cy Young award-winner Max Scherzer. Was he excited about the matchup on the mound?
“Yeah, I don’t know who that Scherzer guy is,” Hess joked with BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Dan Connolly. “Apparently, he is pretty good, or something like that.” He was kidding, of course.
“Right now, our time, [Scherzer is] one of the great pitchers we have and, maybe, to ever pitch.
So, to get to square off against him is going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be a challenge for the team, but I think we have everything we need to be successful and have a chance to win.”
Hess, who said he was looking forward to the challenge of facing Bryce Harper as well, held the Nationals off the board through 2 2⁄3, but a 3-2 change outside to Harper landed deep in the left field seats for an opposite field blast. Harper’s 18th of 2018. 1-0.
Bryce Harper has 18 home runs this season.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 31, 2018
It's not even June. pic.twitter.com/B8iUxtzjd4
That was all Hess gave up through six, and O’s skipper Buck Showalter went to the pen in the seventh.
David Hess’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 97 P, 65 S, 4/4 GO/FO.
Soto - A Leadoff Story: As the Nationals’ PR folks noted on Twitter before tonight’s game, Juan Soto, who was pencilled in atop the Nats’ order for the series finale with the Orioles, would be the first 19-year-old to lead off since Andruw Jones led off for the Atlanta Braves back in 1996.
“I think he matches up really well,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said before today’s game when asked about the decision, referring to the matchup with O’s starter David Hess.
“He’s been getting on base, hitting the ball really well, but he matches up well against this guy, so why not.”
Soto saw just one pitch the first time up, grounding out sharply to short on a 92 mph fastball belt-high outside from O’s righty David Hess.
Soto battled Hess for nine pitches the second time up, but fouled a 3-2 fastball into catcher Chance Sisco’s mitt, 0 for 2, and popped up behind second on a 2-2 fastball in his third trip to the plate, 0 for 3.
There were two on and two out when Soto came up again in the seventh, against O’s right-hander Miguel Castro and threw his bat at a 1-2 changeup outside, punching an RBI single to left to make it 2-0 Nationals.
BULLPEN ACTION: Miguel Castro took over on the mound for the Orioles in the top of the seventh inning, and gave up a one-out walk, and back-to-back, two-out singles by Wilmer Difo and Juan Soto, who went with a 1-2 changeup way outside and punched it to left for an RBI single, 2-0 Nationals.
Donnie Hart got the eighth for the O’s, and worked a scoreless frame as it began to rain in Oriole Park.
Mike Wright, Jr. tossed a scoreless top of the ninth.
Sean Doolittle took the mound in the bottom of the inning, looking for his 13th save in 14 opportunities, and put the first two runners on with a single by Craig Gentry and a pop to short right by Adam Jones that dropped in for a hit. Manny Machado stepped in with two runners on and no one out. Gentry, for some reason, was trying to take third, and Doolittle picked him off for the first out. Machado popped out to left for out No.2.
Jonathan Schoop was the last hope, and he popped out to end it.
Final Score: 2-0 Nationals
Nationals now 32-22