Max Scherzer struck out 13 of the 27 batters he faced in seven innings against the New York Mets, reaching 290 strikeouts total on the season, and the Washington Nationals rallied and tied it at 4-4 in the eighth after falling behind 3-0 early in the series opener. It remained tied until the 12th, when the Mets loaded them up with one out and got a go-ahead sac fly from Jose Lobaton, 5-4.
Scherzer vs the Mets: After giving up seven hits, three walks, and six runs (all earned) in a four-inning outing against the Braves last time out, Max Scherzer was left (1-1) in three September starts, over which he had a 5.40 ERA, four walks, 28 Ks, and a .260/.306/.377 line against in 20 IP.
The back-to-back, defending NL Cy Young award-winner never looked comfortable on the mound in Atlanta’s SunTrust Park, and he was done for the day after throwing 102 pitches.
“I wasn’t putting myself in position to be successful,” Scherzer told reporters, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier after the game.
“When you do that against a team like that, you pay. Especially in this division, when they really know what you’ve got, you pay even more. So that’s what’s going to happen.”
Going up against another NL East rival tonight, Scherzer tossed two scoreless to start, but gave up a leadoff single by the opposing pitcher, Jason Vargas, and two outs later Michael Conforto’s 27th home run of the season on a 1-0 fastball outside that the Mets’ outfielder powered out the other way, 2-0. Jay Bruce followed with a solo shot to left-center on a 1-2 fastball and it was 3-0 Mets after two and a half.
Back-to-back home runs to raise the ERA of a #CyYoung candidate? That's a shame. #LGM pic.twitter.com/J7EWJzI2Oz— New York Mets (@Mets) September 21, 2018
Scherzer picked up his eighth K of the game in the first at bat of the fifth inning, setting a new personal single season high with his 285th, and beating his own record for the most strikeouts in a season by a Nationals’ pitcher in franchise history (2005-present), then he added two more for 10 total on the night.
Scherzer added another K in the sixth, and two more in an eight-pitch seventh for 13 total from 27 batters.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 13 Ks, 2 HRs, 104 P, 76 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
This is the 81st 10+ K game of Max Scherzer's career and the 17th of 2018. pic.twitter.com/mRI2bGiuXx— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 21, 2018
Vargas vs the Nationals: Mets’ lefty Jason Vargas tossed six scoreless against the Nationals when he faced them in Citi Field last month.
“We were just chasing a lot of pitches down,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after the 3-0 loss in that game.
“We need to get them up. We couldn’t do that. We had one opportunity, but we didn’t have [many] opportunities today, we just didn’t hit.”
In his second start against Washington this season, in D.C. tonight, the southpaw added to his scoreless inning total against the Nationals with five scoreless as New York jumped out to 3-0 lead.
His outing ended rather abruptly in the sixth, however, one out after Anthony Rendon hit a 2-1 change out to left field for a one-out, two-run home run that made it a 3-2 game.
x— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 21, 2018
With his 100th career HR, Anthony Rendon has now reached base safely in 28 straight games. pic.twitter.com/YkkFDOrGBX
Jason Vargas’s Line: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 82 P, 52 S, 4/4 GO/FO.
Walks Harper: Bryce Harper took a free pass in his first plate appearance tonight, with two down in the first, taking his sixth walk in his last 6 PAs, and it was also his 124th walk of the season, matching his previous season high set in 2015, and the Nationals’ record for walks in a season. Harper’s 124 walks are also the most in the majors this season.
Scherzer Ks: The all-time franchise record for strikeouts in a season (including the Montreal Expos days) is safe for now, with Pedro Martinez’s 305 in 1997 still the high-water mark, but in the fifth inning tonight, Max Scherzer topped his own franchise record for the Washington, D.C. era of the franchise (2005-present), picking up his 285th strikeout on an 0-2 changeup to the opposing pitcher, Jason Vargas, who was the 8th strikeout victim of the night for the Nats’ ace, who finished the evening with 13 Ks.
Rendon extends on-base streak: Anthony Rendon started the night with a 27-game on-base streak going, over which he had a .352/.432/.593 line, 11 doubles, five HRs, 15 walks, and 13 Ks in 125 PAs. He was 0 for 2 on the night before he hit a two-run home run out to left in the sixth to make it a 3-2 game and extend his streak to 28-straight.
SEE. YOU. LATER! Rendon's 100th career home run makes it a 3-2 game! pic.twitter.com/ppEF2NN7F8— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) September 21, 2018
BULLPEN ACTION: Seth Lugo came on to record the final out of the Nats’ sixth, keeping the Mets up by a run, 3-2.
Lugo returned in the bottom of the seventh and worked around a one-out single, with pinch runner Michael A. Taylor caught trying to steal second for the final out of the inning.
Matt Grace gave up a leadoff by Jeff McNeil in the first at bat of the NY eighth, and a one-out single by Jay Bruce that made it 4-2 Mets.
Wander Suero took over at that point and recorded the final two outs of the inning.
Anthony Swarzak gave up a single by Victor Robles and a walk to Trea Turner in the first two at bats of the Nats’ eighth, so Mets’ skipper Mickey Callaway went to the pen again for lefty Daniel Zamora vs Bryce Harper. Harper fouled off six 1-2 pitches before flying out to right for the first out of the inning. Robles took third on the play.
Robert Gsellman took over on the mound and got the second out on a groundout to third by Anthony Rendon that brought Robles in, 4-3, and Juan Soto drove Turner in with an RBI double to right that bounced off the out-of-town scoreboard, 4-4.
Ryan Zimmerman reached on an infield single that put runners on the corners with one out, but Matt Wieters popped out to end the inning.
Sean Doolittle retired the Mets in order in a 10-pitch top of the ninth.
Tyler Bashlor got the bottom of the ninth for the Mets and retired the side in order to send it to extras.
Greg Holland gave up a leadoff single and back-to-back, one-out walks that loaded the bases in front of pinch hitter Jack Reinheimer, who grounded into an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play.
Bryce Harper reached on an infield single in the Nationals’ half of the tenth, but was caught trying to steal second and Jacob Rhame tossed a scoreless inning to send it to the 11th.
Tim Collins gave up a leadoff double and caught a popped up bunt before he was replaced on the mound by Koda Glover, who got outs Nos. 2-3.
Rhame came back out in the Nationals’ half of the eleventh and gave up a leadoff double by Ryan Zimmerman, who took third base on a fly to center by Matt Wieters. Mark Reynolds K’d swinging at three straight sliders for out No. 2, and after an intentional walk to Wilmer Difo, Victor Robles K’d looking at a 3-2 fastball to end the threat.
Amed Rosario singled off Jefry Rodriguez to start the Mets’ 12th and took second on a sac bunt by Jeff McNeil, so the Nationals gave Michael Conforto the intentionals in front of Jay Bruce who took a base-loading unintentional walk. Jose Lobaton stepped in next and hit a sac fly to center, 5-4 Mets.
Paul Sewald came on for New York in the bottom of the 12th and retired the Nationals in order (with Bryce Harper getting tossed for arguing a called third strike along the way).
Final Score: 5-4 Mets
Nationals now 77-76