Max Scherzer took the mound tonight in the series opener with the Miami Marlins unbeaten in his last seven starts, over which he was (5-0) with a 2.25 ERA, 10 walks, 53 strikeouts, and a .195/.243/.362 line against in 48 innings pitched.
One of the wins in that unbeaten streak came against the Fish, when the Nationals’ back-to-back, defending NL Cy Young award winner held the Marlins to an unearned run and a total of three hits over eighth innings on the mound in Marlins Park.
“He didn’t give us a whole lot to hit tonight,” Marlins’ skipper Don Mattingly told reporters in Miami after that game.
“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.”
Last time out before tonight’s game, Scherzer tossed seven scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field, receiving no decision in what ended up a 4-3 loss.
Scherzer tossed four scoreless to start the series opener with the Marlins in Nationals Park, working around a walk and two hits, and finishing up after six scoreless on 96 pitches, with just five hits and a walk allowed.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 96 P, 62 S, 4/1 GO/FO.
“He just attacked the strike zone like he always does,” Davey Martinez told reporters after the Nationals’ 8-2 win.” What I liked, he was getting outs, quick outs early in the game.
“The strikeouts, he’ll strike people out, but I liked the fact that they were swinging and putting the ball in play.”
“Located the fastball when I needed to and just kept throwing up zeroes when we needed it, and they grinded me,” Scherzer said.
“They put some runners on base there,” he added, “and there were some spots in the game that could have swung the game either way and [Matt] Wieters did a great job behind the plate, finding the right pitch to throw at the right time.”
Scherzer and Martinez had a brief discussion after the sixth, but the starter, who has fought to keep going in previous outings, said he could go further into the start, but not much.
“He had 96 pitches, so I told him that was good, our bullpen could cover, and he was good with it,” Martinez explained.
“I kind of knew where my finish line was at and just if I wanted to go back out there and face [Starlin] Castro and [Austin] Dean, two righties, I said that was my finish line,” Scherzer said.
“I didn’t really have the bullets tonight to be able to go past that, and they said they’d rather go to a reliever and give him a fresh inning and work from it that way.
“So that made the decision easy and that’s what I had tonight.”
In addition to his six scoreless innings on the mound, Scherzer went 1 for 2 with two runs scored at the plate, reaching on a fielder’s choice in the third inning before scoring from second on an RBI single by Bryce Harper, then doubling and scoring on an RBI double to center by Adam Eaton in the fourth.
On the year, he’s now got a .296/.333/.333 line with a bat in his hands.
Martinez suggested that the heat and the baserunning Scherzer did, he might have tired him out some, but the right-hander said it hadn’t had an impact. “None whatsoever.”
“That’s why I put in the work and run in-between days so that I can run the bases and pitch. For me that’s part of the game.”
“When I’m at the plate I just want to compete,” Scherzer added.
“I just want to make a competitive at bat, whether it’s bunting or trying to find a way to move a runner or just hit, just go up there and just have a competitive at bat, and just try to make it as hard as possible on the other pitcher. Look, I know I’m not a great hitter, but I can just go out there and do what I can do at the plate to help out any way I can for the rest of the team.”
“I just think it’s a necessity to be a great starting pitcher in the National League,” Scherzer said. “You have an opportunity to help the team in more ways than just on the mound and I look for every situation possible to contribute any way I can. If that means bunting, moving runners over, that’s what I want to do, if it means hitting the other way to try to move runners that’s something that I want to be able to do. Running the bases is part of the game, and if I have to run the bases and score that something that’s got to be a part of my game as well, so for me that’s why I love hitting in the National League because of the extra opportunities you can to help out yourself and the team.”