Bryce Harper took two walks around a sac fly in his first three trips to the plate tonight, then got hold of one in the bottom of the eighth inning, lining a double to right to start the home half of the frame. Trea Turner singled in the next at bat, sending Harper around to third, and one out later, Juan Soto split the gap with an opposite field two-run double to put the home team up 4-2 on the Baltimore Orioles.
Scherzer vs the O’s: Max Scherzer tossed eight scoreless against the Orioles back on May 30th in Baltimore, striking out 12 of the 27 batters he faced in what ended up a 2-0 win.
“He had a really good fastball tonight,” Davey Martinez told reporters after the game.
“I should say a great fastball. 96-97, it was over the plate, and the slider was really, really sharp.”
“Did a good job of changing our sequencing throughout the lineup, first time, second time, third time through the lineup,” Scherzer added, “and just executed with pitches tonight.”
In the three starts that followed, the Nationals’ 33-year-old right-hander put up a 2.57 ERA and a .173/.225/.307 line against, with four walks and 32 Ks in 21 innings on the mound, losing back-to-back games for the first time since 2015 in his last two starts before tonight.
Scherzer fell behind early in the finale with the O’s in D.C. when Colby Rasmus hit a knee-high 1-1 fastball out to left-center field for a solo shot with one out in the second.
It was tied at 1-1 after three, but Mark Trumbo put the Orioles back on top with a solo shot to center on a first-pitch fastball in the first at bat of the fourth, 2-1. Trumbo’s 6th of 2018.
The second blast of the game off the Nats’ starter marked the first two-HR game vs Scherzer since July 21, 2017.
Scherzer kept the Orioles off the board through seven, as the Nationals rallied to tie it on an Anthony Rendon homer in the bottom of the sixth inning, working around a two-out walk to end his outing at 102 pitches after seven innings pitched.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 Ks, 2 HRs, 102 P, 72 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
Gausman vs the Nationals: O’s righty Kevin Gausman was winless in six starts heading into tonight’s outing, with an (0-4) record over that stretch, a 6.61 ERA and a .341/.388/.585 line against in 31 1⁄3 innings, with the Orioles 0-6 in those starts.
Gausman’s night started with two scoreless and hitless on 27 pitches, but Wilmer Difo lined a leadoff single to left-center to start the Nationals’ third, and Pedro Severino lined one off the left field wall in the next at bat, sending Difo around to third base with the double.
A swinging K from Max Scherzer brought Bryce Harper up, and a sac fly to left field tied it up at 1-1.
It was 2-1 Orioles when Gausman took the mound in the fourth, and tossed a quick, 17-pitch frame (after a 34-pitch third), and he kept the O’s up by one with a scoreless, 18-pitch fifth inning in which he worked around a two-out walk to Bryce Harper.
Anthony Rendon tied it up at 2-2 in the sixth, however, taking a 1-1 slider for a ride to left for a leadoff home run, his seventh of 2018.
Tie ballgame courtesy of Trea Turner's favorite player. pic.twitter.com/y7uso1uGbF— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 22, 2018
Kevin Gausman’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 114 P, 72 S, 6/3 GO/FO.
MAT IS B-A-C-K in the lineup: Davey Martinez told reporters that in order to get Michael A. Taylor at bats, he’d considered finding a spot for Taylor (who was drafted as a shortstop) in the infield, though, you know, probably don’t expect that any time soon.
Taylor started the night with an 11-game hit streak going, over which he was 16 for 35 (.375 AVG) with a three doubles, one home run, six RBIs, four walks, eight stolen bases, and seven runs scored.
Taylor did it the hard way the last two nights, with pinch hits to extend the streak.
Tonight vs the Orioles, Taylor was robbed by third baseman Steve Wilkerson, who was in in case the speedy outfielder bunted, but still made a diving play on a chopper that appeared headed for the left field corner. 0 for 1.
Taylor got one by the O’s third baseman the second time up, singling with two down in the fourth, 1 for 2, extending his hitting streak to 12-straight games.
Michael A. Taylor has extended his hitting streak to a career-high 12 games! pic.twitter.com/TPdpcWxVRZ— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 22, 2018
He lined out to right field on a 2-2 fastball to end a seven-pitch at bat in the sixth, 1 for 3. A line drive out in his final at bat left him 1 for 4 on the night.
Rendone it again: In his last 12 games before the finale with the O’s, Anthony Rendon was 17 for 44 (.386 AVG) with seven doubles, six walks, and 11 runs scored, and he’d reached base safely in 31 of 38 games since coming off the DL on May 5th, while connecting for multi-hit games in four straight and five of the last six. He hadn’t homered in 85 plate appearances, however, going back to his sixth of the season on May 28th in Baltimore.
He got the Orioles again in the seventh tonight, connecting for a solo home run off right-hander Kevin Gausman to tie the game up at 2-2.
BULLPEN/TOOTBLAN ACTION: Wilmer Difo greeted Orioles’ reliever Mychal Givens with a leadoff triple to right field, but Pedro Severino grounded weakly to first on the first pitch of the next at bat, failing to bring the run in, and Difo got thrown out at the plate on a liner to short right by pinch hitter Daniel Murphy in the next at bat.
Difo broke toward home on contact, hustled back to third, then slipped on the bag as he went to tag up, giving right fielder Colby Rasmus enough time to make the catch and fire it back in in time to get the runner at the plate for an inning-ending 9-2 double play. Not good. Still 2-2.
Kelvin Herrera retired the Orioles in order in a quick, 13-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the eighth, and Bryce Harper doubled to right on an 98 mph 2-2 fastball form Givens, moved to third on a single by Trea Turner, and one out later (after an Anthony Rendon strikeout), Juan Soto split the game in left-center with a two-run double that put the Nationals up, 4-2.
Sean Doolittle came out for the save opportunity and retired the O’s in order in the ninth.
Final Score: 4-2 Nationals
Nationals now 40-33