Max Scherzer battled Mike Trout for eight pitches, going to a full count before missing with a slider that ended up way inside. Scherzer gave up a single in the next at bat, on a 97 MPH fastball J.D. Martinez sent back up the middle, but both AL runners were stranded on the basepaths when the NL starter popped Jose Ramirez up to end the opening frame of the 2018 All-Star Game.
In the top of the second inning, Washington’s 33-year-old ace threw Aaron Judge a 95 MPH first-pitch fastball outside, then came up and in on the New York Yankees’ slugger, who hit the second 95 MPH heater out to left and into the back of the visitor’s bullpen in Nationals Park to score the first of 14 total runs scored in the 89th annual Midsummer Classic.
Scherzer retired the next three batters he faced in a two-inning, 32-pitch outing in which he struck out four of the nine batters he faced.
He talked afterwards about the atmosphere in the nation’s capital during the at bat against Trout and throwing a good pitch to Judge that the Yankee crushed.
When he got to two strikes against Trout, the home crowd in D.C. was pumped to see if he’d retire the player considered by many (including Bryce Harper) the best hitter around.
“I was pumped,” Scherzer said. “The adrenaline was flowing. I really wanted to strike him out.
“I was throwing pitches I thought that could get it, but he put a great battle on me, and unfortunately I walked him but I’d love to do it again.”
And the pitch to Judge?
“I threw a fastball up and I hit my spot,” Scherzer said, “hit the glove — it’s just he’s 6’7’’, and I was like, ‘Man, I really thought I threw that high,’ and you’ve got to go higher than higher than high against him, because he’s 6’7’’, it’s incredible. He put a great swing on it, I tip my cap, move on, learn my lesson and I realize now pitching against tall guys you’ve got to go high.”
When the All-Star Game ended, the two teams had combined for 20 hits, a record 10 home runs, and 14 runs total. The hitters also struck out 25 times.
It was an all-or-nothing night in Nationals Park, but Scherzer said that’s what you’ve got to expect in a game like that with a roster full of bashers and a parade of the best pitchers in baseball. Is it a good look for the game though? Do things need to change?
“This is an All-Star Game,” Scherzer explained, “... this is a different animal. When you have guys just red-lining and just throwing as hard as they can, I mean you’re seeing upper 90s fastballs with all these breaking balls, the hitters are in a tough spot, so you’re not going to string three hits together, so they’re swinging for the fence, so yeah, this is what you’re going to see, that’s not indicative of the game how it currently is, so baseball doesn’t need to change.”
In the end, Scherzer said, the entire affair in his home park was “awesome”.
“What an atmosphere. I thought we were a great host team. All the other players in here loved our facilities and the treatment we received. D.C. did it right.”
Now the Nationals have to get things right in the second-half, after a 48-48 start to the 2018 campaign, which has them 5.5 games out as they welcome the Atlanta Braves to D.C.
Scherzer was asked if he would relax a little or if was right back into the battle to try to win a third straight NL East crown.
“I mean, we have two off days here, so of course I’m going to relax,” Scherzer said, though it sounded like he was being forced to relax.
“We’ve got a big series against Atlanta on Friday, so I guess I can’t relax too much.”