Max Scherzer was winless in five starts (with the Washington Nationals shut out in three of those games) before he picked up three straight wins in his previous three outings before facing the Miami Marlins on Friday night in Marlins Park.
Scherzer put up a 2.73 ERA and a .178/.265/.322 line against in 33 innings over the five starts without a W, and a 4.05 ERA and .270/.316/.527 line against in 20 innings on the mound in his three wins, but, you know, baseball.
One of the three wins was against the Marlins, back on July 7th in the nation’s capital, when the back-to-back, defending NL Cy Young award-winner gave up seven hits, two walks, and four earned runs in seven innings in an 18-4 win over the Fish.
Scherzer admitted after the outing he made some mistakes, “with some offspeed stuff and left it in the zone,” adding that, “these are too good of guys to make those mistakes,” while noting that, “if there’s ever a time to make some mistakes it’s when you get 18 runs and the offense is blasting everybody, so I’ve still got a smile on my face.”
Scherzer wasn’t smiling on Friday night in Miami, because he was all business from the start as he set down 10-straight Marlins to begin the game, but a hit-by-pitch spoiled his bid for a perfect outing.
Martin Prado, who started the night 16 for 35 (.457/.457/.657) with four doubles and a homer off Scherzer in their respective careers, singled with one out in the fifth for the Marlins’ first hit of the game, which was their only hit until he “doubled” on a chopper to third that got by Mark Reynolds to drive in Miami’s first run an at bat after Reynolds was charged with two Es on a grounder off of Starlin Castro’s bat. It was 4-1 Nationals at that point.
Scherzer was up to 88 pitches and nine Ks after seven, and he came back out for the eighth and added two Ks for 11 total (and his 199th and 200th this season) in an 18-pitch frame that left him at 106 pitches total on the night.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 Ks, 106 P, 74 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
“He didn’t give us a whole lot to hit tonight,” Marlins’ manager Don Mattlingly told reporters after the second straight loss to the Nationals. “Usually I think we’ve been pretty good with most guys, but tonight you’ve got to give Max a lot of credit. You didn’t see a lot of pitches you felt like guys were getting in the middle of the plate, and it looked like he was hitting edges, basically both sides, he was pretty good tonight.”
After what ended up a 9-1 win for Washington, the Nationals’ third straight overall, manager Davey Martinez talked to reporters about Scherzer reaching the 200-strikeout milestone for the seventh straight season.
Citing Elias Sports, the Nationals noted that Scherzer is now tied for the second-most 200 K seasons in a row, along with the Washington Senators’ Walter Johnson (1910-16) and the Red Sox’ Roger Clemens (1986-92), behind only Tom Seaver, who passed 200 Ks in nine straight seasons (1968-76) with the New York Mets.
“That’s an unbelievable accomplishment,” Martinez said.
“Seven straight years to do that, that just speaks to what Max represents and how he goes about his business.”
Scherzer said it was all about durability.
“Durability, the fact that I’m able to keep making every start,” the now-34-year-old right-hander explained.
“Going out there and just pitching with my stuff and keep making every start.
“That’s something I take pride in. The fact that I can be counted on for 30+ starts a year, that’s something that I kind of take personally, and the fact that I’m out there every single time, I’m happy that I can help the team out that way.”
Through 22 starts this season, Scherzer’s now (14-5) with a 2.30 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 36 walks (2.18 BB/9), and the 200 Ks (12.11 K/9) in 148 2⁄3 IP.
Scherzer, who celebrated his 34th birthday on Friday, talked about continuing to do what he’s done year after year.
“I’m healthy,” he said.
“Compared to last year — last year was a fight. I’m on a program where we know how to handle each little injury that comes up, and able to make sure that nothing gets out of control. A lot of credit goes to the strength staff and to the training staff, making sure that we’re dialed in on what it takes to be healthy, and they get a lot of credit there as well.”
“He kind of consistently has been going out year in and year out and kind of dominating,” Mattingly said. “And you usually see that it’s hard to do that for a long period of time, and he’s been doing it for a long time. Tonight it was just about as good as I think I’ve seen.
“I know he’s pitched good against us at times, but tonight it didn’t look like he left anything in the middle of the plate.”
Martinez was asked when he knew that Scherzer was locked in against the Marlins.
“The first inning,” he joked. “I mean, he was good. His cutter was really, really filthy today.
“He was really good all day. Kudos to him. Like I’ve said he works his butt off, and he comes out and competes every time he goes out there.”