Max Scherzer tossed seven scoreless against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field back on August 12th, striking out 11 of the 25 batters he faced. He received no decision, however, when the Nationals’ bullpen blew a lead late in devastating fashion.
Ryan Madson had a 3-0 lead to work with when he took the mound in the ninth and gave up a walk-off grand slam that gave the home team a 4-3 win.
It was a gut punch as Scherzer put it after the game.
Saturday afternoon in Washington, D.C., the defending, back-to-back NL Cy Young award-winner struck out six of the first 16 batters he faced over five scoreless, retiring 14 straight batters after a one-out double in the top of the first.
Scherzer was up to 15 in a row set down before a hit-by-pitch and a single in the sixth ended that streak, but he got a 6-3 DP to end the threat and complete his sixth scoreless.
Max Scherzer, Disgusting 86mph Slider (release/spin axis/slow). pic.twitter.com/EaboLBy1ah— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 8, 2018
With the score 8-0 Nats after six innings, the Cubs connected for three singles and a run in the seventh, but Scherzer was up to just 80 pitches when he got the final out of the inning, and a two-run rally for the Nationals added to their lead, 10-1.
Scherzer came back out with a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 eight inning that left him at 92 pitches and 10 Ks overall, and he returned to the mound in the ninth and gave up three straight singles as the Cubs loaded the bases before a sac fly and an RBI single made it a 10-3 game and drew manager Davey Martinez out to the mound for a brief chat with his starter.
Max Scherzer, Filthy 89mph dead zone Cutter. pic.twitter.com/Vf69KxKENk— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 8, 2018
“I liked what I saw, but I just kind of want to hear it from him,” Martinez explained after the 10-3 win, “and like we always do, we always have conversations, and I went out there and just asked him, I said, ‘Hey, what do you got?’ He says, ‘I got a lot. Let’s go.’ I said, ‘Well get these two outs. It’s all yours.’”
“I said I wanted to finish,” Scherzer told reporters. “I knew how much I had in the tank. I had plenty in the tank. We’ve been playing some hot games, and for the weather to cool off you feel like you had unlimited energy. And for me I still had plenty in the tank.”
A swinging K from Kris Bryant gave Scherzer 11 strikeouts and a fly to center from Ian Happ ended the second complete game of 2018 for the Nationals’ ace, who finished off the 10th complete game his career.
He also reached double digits in Ks for the 16th time this season and the 80th time in his career.
Scherzer said things started to click in the middle innings and he was able to finish strong.
“Just really felt like I synced up my mechanics, really stayed over the rubber better this time and finally started throwing strike one,” he explained. “I don’t know what the numbers were, but I just felt like I was pounding the zone early in the count and forcing action. They were swinging at the first pitch, got some quick outs. I gave up some hits too, early in the count, but that’s how I know how to attack. I can attack with all the pitches and work ahead in the count and force their hand.
“And today [Matt] Wieters and I did a great job of sequencing and making sure that we did that.”