With a six-run second, in which they batted around, collected four hits, and took four walks (one intentional, two with the bases loaded), the Washington Nationals jumped out to a 6-0 lead in what ended up a 10-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Max Scherzer gave up two runs in six innings, over which he struck out 10 on 110 pitches, extending an unbeaten streak to five straight starts, over which he’s posted a 2.91 ERA.
The win was the Nationals’ third straight, and their sixth in the last eight games as they try to make a late-season run in the National League East.
Scherzer vs the Reds: Max Scherzer was (4-0) in his last four starts heading into tonight’s matchup with the Reds, with a 2.89 ERA, six walks, 26 Ks, and a .223/.273/.417 line against over 28 innings in that stretch.
Tonight in the nation’s capital, Scherzer was facing Cincinnati’s Reds for the second time this season, after throwing six scoreless innings against them in his first start of 2018 on March 28th in Great American Ball Park, striking out 10 in that outing.
Given a 6-0 lead to work with after two, Scherzer set the Reds down in order in the top of the third, giving him eight straight batters retired after Scooter Gennett doubled for the only hit the Nationals’ ace allowed through three scoreless.
Max Scherzer, Filthy 83mph Changeup (release/slow). pic.twitter.com/ieARm5RpmO— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 2, 2018
It was 7-0 when Scherzer took the mound in the top of the fourth and gave up a leadoff single by Gennett (2 for 2 tonight, 5 for 5 vs Scherzer this season) and a one-out, two-run home run to left by Eugenio Suarez, who crushed a 1-2 cutter and hit it into the left field bullpen, 7-2.
Scherzer threw 33 pitches in the fourth, and 18 more in the fifth, leaving him at 91 total, and he finished his night with an 19-pitch sixth in which he worked around a leadoff walk to Joe Votto and picked up his 10th K on his 110th pitch.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 110 P, 77 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
For the 76th time in his career, Max Scherzer has struck out double-digit batters in a game.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 3, 2018
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Mahle vs the Nationals: After putting together an eight-start unbeaten streak between May 26th and July 6th, over which he had a 2.62 ERA and a .248/.340/.376 line against in 44 2⁄3 IP, Reds’ right-hander Tyler Mahle was winless in his last three outings heading into tonight’s series opener in Nationals Park, having given up 20 hits and 16 runs (14 earned) in just nine innings on the mound in those three starts.
The Cincy righty fell behind early in the series opener in D.C. as the Nats loaded the bases in the home-half of the second with a single by Bryce Harper, a walk by Juan Soto and one-out intentional walk to Daniel Murphy in front of Matt Wieters, who hit a long fly ball to right that was caught at the out-of-town scoreboard, but brought in a run, 1-0.
Max Scherzer helped his own cause with a two-out RBI single, and Trea Turner took an 0-2 fastball up in the zone back up the middle for a two-run RBI hit that made it 4-0 Nationals.
Max Scherzer has as many hits as he's allowed tonight. pic.twitter.com/KjoTFftq69— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 3, 2018
Harper got another at bat later in the second, with the bases loaded, and worked the count full and walked, 5-0. That was it for Mahle, but righty Keury Mella issued another walk, with Juan Soto taking this one to force in the sixth run of the inning, 6-0.
Tyler Mahle’s Line: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 49 P, 30 S, 3/1 GO/FO.
Murphy being Murphy: Coming into tonight’s opener against the Reds, Daniel Murphy had hit safely in 10 of his last 12 games, going 15 for 39 (.385 AVG) with two doubles, three HRs, three walks and five runs scored. Murphy was also 23 for 56 (.411 AVG) over the last 18, with a .469 OBP (23 hits, seven walks) and a .643 SLG (four doubles, three HRs) over that stretch, with six strikeouts in 64 plate appearances after he’d gone 13 for 69 (.188 AVG) with a .230 OBP (23 hits, four walks), and a .261 SLG (two doubles, one home run) in his first 21 games and 74 PAs of the season after a late start following offseason knee surgery.
After going 1 for 2 with a walk in his first three PAs tonight, Murphy was hitting .292 on the season, up from .182 on July 1st. He ended up going 1 for 3 with two runs scored, leaving him with a .289 AVG on the season.
BULLPEN ACTION: Keury Mella issued a bases-loaded walk to Juan Soto after taking over on the mound for the Reds in the second, 6-0, but got the visiting team out of a looooong second in the next at bat.
Daniel Murphy was up to a .292 AVG on the season after a leadoff single in the third, and two outs later, he scored on an RBI single by Adam Eaton that made it 7-0 Nationals.
Mella worked around Juan Soto’s third walk of the night in a scoreless fourth, and a single by Matt Wieters in the fifth, then got the Reds through sixth as well, walking two before an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP.
Justin Miller stranded a two-out single after taking over on the mound for the Nationals in the seventh, throwing a scoreless, 15-pitch frame.
Jared Hughes retired the Nationals in order in the seventh, and Matt Grace worked around a one-out walk in the top of the eighth.
Trea Turner took Raisel Iglesias deep to left in the bottom of the eighth, hitting his 14th of the season into the visitor’s bullpen for a two-run blast that made it 9-2 Nationals, and an absolute bomb of a home run by Bryce Harper, on a first-pitch sinker, made it 10-2. No. 26 for Harper.
Jimmy Cordero, who was called up after Shawn Kelley got DFA’d, made his MLB debut in the top of the ninth, giving a two-out single, a walk, and a two-out, two-run double, 10-4. That’s how it ended.
Final Score: 10-4 Nationals
Nationals now 55-53