A hanging curve and hanging slider up in the zone cost Max Scherzer early on Saturday night in Miami, with Brian Anderson (RBI double) and Starlin Castro (RBI single) taking advantage of pitches Scherzer left up, giving the Marlins a 2-0 lead early in the middle game of the three-game series in Marlins Park.
Castro got Scherzer again in the third, hitting a 3-2 slider to left for a two-out RBI single that put the Marlins back on top after the Washington Nationals rallied to tie it, 3-2.
It was 3-3 in the fifth when Curtis Granderson hit a 2-2 fastball from Scherzer out to right for a leadoff home run that put the Marlins up for good.
Scherzer batted with a runner on and two out in a 4-3 game in the top of the sixth, even though he’d thrown 92 pitches in five innings, and he came back out for the bottom of the inning and gave up back-to-back, one-out doubles and a two-run “single” on a swinging bunt by pinch hitter Rosell Herrera which Scherzer fielded but threw away, trying for the out at home, but tossing it by Nationals’ catcher Yan Gomes.
That was it for Scherzer, in a rough outing for the runner-up to the 2018 Cy Young in what ended up a 9-3 loss.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 5.1 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 9 Ks, 1 HR, 108 P, 77 S, 3/2 GO/FO.
“It was just location,” Manager Davey Martinez said when asked about Scherzer’s struggles against the Fish after the game.
“He left too many balls up and out over the plate, and when you do that, you’ve got big league hitters, and he just — tonight just wasn’t his night. He said he felt good, but his location was not good today.”
“I’m not locating pitches well, I’m leaving them right down the middle,” Scherzer said, in summing up his night succinctly, as quoted by Washington Post writer Jesse Dougherty.
His slider in particular, and offspeed stuff in general, just weren’t there, his manager said.
“When Max is good he goes north and south,” Martinez explained. “He didn’t do that tonight.
“He couldn’t get below the zone, he left everything pretty much up. But you know what, he knows, he comes back in five days... and he’s our best, he gave us everything he had today.”
Asked if it was a bigger issue he was seeing with Scherzer or just an outing you throw away, the second-year skipper leaned towards the latter.
“No, I talked to him after the game and he said, ‘Hey look, I felt good I just didn’t make any pitches, and he said, ‘I know what I’ve got to do,’ so we’ll see him in five days.”
And the decision to let Scherzer bat and go back out for the sixth?
“He was at  pitches,” Martinez said, “and he told me, he said he was good. He felt like and I felt like his fastball was good, like I said, it was just more the pitch location. We get him through that inning and we’re sitting really good, and like I said, just one dribbler...”