Max Scherzer tossed eight scoreless innings against the Baltimore Orioles during the series in Oriole Park at Camden Yards last month, giving up two hits and a walk and striking out 12 of 27 batters in a 2-0 win.
“He doesn’t lose anything as the game goes on,” O’s skipper Buck Showalter told reporters after the loss to the Washington Nationals’ ace.
“I don’t think that anybody doubts that he physically could have pitched the ninth inning, but he’s — you don’t like that it’s against you, but that’s what top pitchers in the game do, you see their whole repertoire.
“This guy’s got changeup, plus breaking ball, and fastball in both — really four quadrants, he elevates it and it’s like he can kind of — he reads hitter’s swings well, he remembers at bats, what a guy did last time and you can see the adjustments made at bat to at bat.”
Scherzer credited catcher Pedro Severino for helping with the adjustments they made each time through the lineup.
“Did a good job of changing our sequencing throughout the lineup, first time, second time, third time through the lineup and just executed with pitches tonight,” he explained.
“When I can throw all my pitches for strikes, that’s when I can work ahead in the count.”
Knowing he was going to throw strikes, the Orioles were swinging early from the start of the series finale in Nationals Park last night, and they jumped out to an early lead when Colby Rasmus hit one out to left-center for a solo shot on a 95 mph 1-1 fastball with one down in the top of the second, 1-0.
Mark Trumbo was first pitch swinging too, and the O’s slugger hit a solo shot to center on a high fastball to start the top of the fourth, putting the Orioles back on top a half-inning after the Nationals rallied to tie it, 2-1. Trumbo’s sixth and second in two days.
It was the first time Scherzer has given up two home runs in a game since July of 2017, but that’s all he ended up allowing in a seven-inning outing.
He left the mound with the score tied at 2-2 after 102 pitches.
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.
“He was good,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after what ended up 4-2 win.
Martinez went to the bullpen after seven innings from Scherzer, and the Nats rallied in the top of the eighth with Juan Soto driving in two runs with an opposite field double to left-center, after Kelvin Herrera tossed a scoreless top of the inning.
“Obviously he wanted to stay in the game,” Martinez said, “... but he said it was my call, and I said, ‘Hey, our bullpen is fresh, I think we’ll pass it over to Herrera and see where we’re at,’ so he was good with it.”
Scherzer was asked after the less-than-stellar (but still pretty good) start if he was thinking more about his outing or the fact that the Nationals came away with a win.
“Hey, we won the ballgame,” Scherzer said. “That’s what matters. That’s my job as a starting pitcher, pitch deep into the ballgame, and give the team a chance to win.
“Two solo home runs, turn the page, move on from it, and continue to pitch, and with our offense — Soto comes up late and gets a huge RBI double, and just guys grinding ABs away, putting good ABs against [Orioles’ starter Kevin] Gausman, made him work, and our pen came in with Herrera and [Sean] Doolittle and we won the game. So that’s what you really focus on.”