Max Scherzer made one big mistake, on a cutter that didn’t cut that Brandon Crawford crushed, but what will likely stick in the Nationals’ ace’s craw is the leadoff walk to San Francisco Giants’ slugger Pablo Sandoval in the at bat before Crawford’s two-run blast, which ended up being the difference in Washington’s 2-0 loss in the finale of the three-game set in the nation’s capital, as the visiting team took 2 of 3 in D.C.
Scherzer vs San Francisco: Unbeaten in his last 11 outings before this afternoon’s start, with a 2.00 ERA, 16 walks, 116 Ks, and a .159/.217/.293 line against in 76 2⁄3 IP in that stretch, over which he allowed two runs or fewer in 10 of 11 starts, Max Scherzer took the mound today in Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park looking to help the Nats to a series win over San Francisco after the Nationals’ 7-5 win in the second of three with the Giants on Saturday afternoon set up the rubber match.
Scherzer worked around a two-out walk and single in the first, then struck six straight Giant hitters out before a groundout ended that streak and his third scoreless frame, but he gave up a two-run home run by Brandon Crawford in the fourth, in the at bat after a leadoff walk to Pablo Sandoval, 2-0 Giants. He’s not going to be happy about that walk.
After stranding a leadoff double in the fifth, and working around a one-out double to left by Crawford in the top of the sixth (3 for 3, HR, 2B, 1B for Crawford), Scherzer was up to a total of 94 pitches, with the score still 2-0 Giants, and he came back out for the seventh, walking Mac Williamson to start the frame with his 99th pitch of the game. Williamson stole second base as Austin Jackson went down swinging in the next AB, but was stranded there.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 9 Ks, 1 HR, 113 P, 72 S, 5/1 GO/FO.
Holland in D.C.: Signed to a 1-year/$1.75M free agent deal back in February, 31-year-old left-hander Derek Holland got off to a rough start with the San Francisco Giants, going (0-3) in his first five starts this season, with a 5.76 ERA and a .220/.292/.484 line against in 25 IP in April.
He earned the win in his first start in May, however, and in his last seven starts before today, the southpaw was (3-3) with a 4.34 ERA and a .261/.331/.437 line against in 37 1⁄3 IP over that stretch.
This afternoon, he was going up against a Nationals’ roster that had a .242/.316/.392 line vs lefties this season, which had them ranked 9th/11th/10th among National League teams.
Holland held the Nats to two hits and a walk through four scoreless, as the Giants jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and kept them off the board through six, giving up just three hits total in what ended up a 95-pitch start.
Derek Holland’s Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 95 P, 65 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
MAT & OBP: Michael A. Taylor had been on quite a tear over his last 16 games heading into this afternoon’s finale with the Giants, going 18 for 58 in that stretch (.310 AVG), with seven doubles, two triples, two home runs, five walks, five stolen bases, and seven runs scored in that 16-game run, and reaching base in 14 of those 16 games.
He made it 15 of 17 games with a leadoff, opposite field single in the top of the fifth inning today, as the Nationals tried to get something going against Giants’ lefty Derek Holland.
A walk by catcher Pedro Severino moved him into scoring position at second base, and he stole third with Max Scherzer at the plate, tying his previous season high with his 17th steal of 2018, but he was stranded at third as Holland completed his fifth scoreless frame.
Taylor walked with one down in the Nationals’ half of the seventh, but got tagged out trying to steal second base when he slid by the base and Brandon Crawford alertly tagged him for the out.
BULLPEN ACTION: Former Nationals’ closer Mark Melancon took over on the mound in the home-half of the sixth inning, after five scoreless from the Giants’ starter, and issued a two-out walk to Anthony Rendon before popping Mark Reynolds up to end a 15-pitch frame, still a 2-0 game.
Sam Dyson walked Michael A. Taylor with one down in the bottom of the seventh, but got tagged out by Brandon Crawford when his foot came off the bag. A groundout by Wilmer Difo in the next AB ended the inning, still 2-0 Giants.
Matt Grace replaced Max Scherzer on the mound for the top of the eighth inning, and gave up Crawford’s fourth hit of the game (4 for 4, a triple shy of the cycle after a second double) with two down, but Shawn Kelley took over there and got a groundout from Evan Longoria for the final out of the frame, still a 2-0 game.
Tony Watson tossed quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth, to preserve the Giants’ two-run lead.
Trevor Gott got the top of the ninth for the Nationals, and worked around a leadoff walk to keep it a 2-0 game in the Giants’ favor.
Hunter Strickland took the mound in the bottom of the ninth looking for the save, and faced Bryce Harper in the first at bat, retiring him without any drama this time.
Two quick outs later, it was over. Ballgame. Giants take 2 of 3 in D.C. Up next for the Nats: Two with the New York Yankees in the Bronx starting Tuesday night.
Final Score: 2-0 Giants
Nationals now 36-27