Max Scherzer talked after his first start of the Spring, a two-inning, 44-pitch outing in which he gave up a leadoff homer and two other hits, but just the one run, about learning what he could from the appearance and continuing to work to get ready for Opening Day.
“There was some good and bad from this outing,” Scherzer told reporters, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty.
“My fastball location was a little off, my tempo was a little off, I mean those are just between-year fixes that I can get back out there and . . . I need to pick up my tempo and that’s when usually everything sinks in, and my fastball location comes off that. That’s an easy nip in the bud.”
Scherzer talked after his second start about ... Bryce Harper. That’s pretty much it. Harper had signed while he was pitching, so it was topical, and seemingly all that was discussed.
Or that was all that was quoted after the game, in which he tossed three scoreless on 39 pitches, striking out four.
Making his third Grapefruit League start this afternoon, against the same Boston Red Sox he faced last week, thought the names were different, Scherzer got off to a good start with an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 first inning.
Scherzer buried a 1-2 slider to Bobby Dalbec to get a swinging strikeout and his second K of a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 second, then threw a filthy 1-2 changeup by Chad La Guerra for the first out in the third, and his third K, and recorded another 1-2-3 frame to complete three innings on just 31 pitches.
A hanging 74 mph curve on the first pitch of the fourth ended up clearing the wall as Tzu-Wei Lin hit a solo shot out to right to tie things up a half-inning after the Nationals jumped out to a lead, 1-1.
Blake Swihart singled in the next at bat, and J.D. Martinez spit on a 3-2 fastball outside and took a walk from the Nats’ ace, who was up to 40 pitches at that point. He threw a 2-2 cut fastball by Christian Vazquez for the first out of the fourth, however, and after going full in the next at bat, with Gorkys Hernandez, gave up a pop to center that Victor Robles wasn’t able to track, allowing it to fall in for a hit after the center fielder broke back initially.
Dalbec got another shot at Scherzer with the bases loaded and one out, and lined an 0-1 pitch through the right side for an RBI single and a 2-1 Red Sox’ lead.
That was it for Max, who was up to 56 pitches overall when he was done for the day...
Run Support?: Brian Dozier turned on an 89 mph 2-2 sinker inside from Red Sox’ righty Hector Velazquez and doubled to left field (he’s a pull hitter ya know) with two down in the first, sending a runner (Howie Kendrick, who’d been hit by a pitch) around to third base, but a Victor Robles’ slow-roller to second base ended the first opportunity of the game for the Nationals.
Trea Turner doubled to left field to start the Nationals’ half of the third, but Juan Soto failed to move the runner up, flying out to left, so Turner stole third (without a throw) with Howie Kendrick at the plate, and scored on an infield single, 1-0.
More importantly, however, Kendrick hurt something (later revealed to be his left hamstring) making his way to first, and left the game in obvious frustration.
Not good, be interesting to see what Davey Martinez has to say after the game, but with all the talk about how important Kendrick was to the team on the field and in the clubhouse it would be a big blow if he is injured/unavailable for a long stretch.
Bullpen Action: Vidal Nuño took over for Max Scherzer with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the fourth, and a passed ball in his first at bat allowed the third run in, 3-1, and some miscues in the infield and bloopers added to the Red Sox’ lead, 5-1. It was 7-1 before he got out of the inning.
Sammy Solis tossed a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth inning.
Austin Voth worked around a two-out “triple” in a scoreless, 22-pitch sixth, with the one hit he gave up on a fly to right that got picked up by the wind and carried over right fielder Brandon Snyder’s head.
Snyder made up for his misplay (sort of) when he drove in two runs with an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, 7-3.
Voth came back out for the top of the seventh and gave up a single, walk, and RBI double, 8-3 Sox. Kyle McGowin recorded the final out of the inning.
McGowin came back out with 1-2-3 eighth as well.
Jake Noll improved to 8 for 15 this Spring with an RBI hit in the bottom of the ninth, 8-4. But that was it for the Nationals.