Max Scherzer got lit up when he faced the Miami Marlins for the first time this season back on April 20th in Miami. He gave up 11 hits total and seven runs (six of them earned) over 5 1⁄3 innings pitched, throwing 108 pitches before he was done for the day in what ended up a 9-3 loss.
“It was just location,” Davey Martinez said when asked what went wrong for Washington’s ace in that outing.
“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 talked to him after the game,” Martinez added, “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.”
He gave up two runs on four hits the next time out, striking out 10 of the 24 batters he faced in a 101-pitch outing.
In six starts total before he faced Miami again on Monday afternoon, Scherzer was more like himself, posting a 2.54 ERA, 11 walks (2.54 BB/9), 52 Ks (12.00 K/9), and a .224/.288/.354 line against in 39 innings before he took on the Marlins in the series finale of the four-game set between the NL East rivals in the nation’s capital.
Marlins’ hitters managed to push Scherzer’s pitch count up again on Monday afternoon, but the Nationals’ starter gave up just one run over six innings, throwing 103 pitches total in the start, and he left the game with a 2-1 lead.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 103 P, 81 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
Brian Dozier and Max Scherzer....— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 27, 2019
You know it's out of control when Max is taken aback by that level of hype. pic.twitter.com/6jHRF3rZkt
Things fell apart fairly quickly, however, with a leadoff walk by reliever Tanner Rainey in the top of the seventh inning, an error on a dropped ball by Matt Adams as he tried to apply a tag on a bunt by the opposing pitcher, and two productive outs tying it up before the Fish added a run in the eighth with a single, a throwing error by Trea Turner on a grounder that Adams stretched for but didn’t catch, and a sacrifice fly putting the visiting team ahead for good.
Marlins’ hitters managed to foul off 37 of the 103 pitches Scherzer threw, as opposed to the 20 that were fouled off in his previous start, when he tossed six scoreless on 109 pitches on the road against New York’s Mets. He got just 12 swinging strikes from the Marlins, vs 25 in Citi Field, and the balls Miami’s hitters put in play had an average exit velocity of 97+ MPH vs 88.1 MPH in NY.
“I was able to pound the zone, threw a ton of strikes,” Scherzer told reporters after the game in Nationals Park.
“They did a great job of grinding me and just fouling balls [off] and running the pitch count up, and just making me work. I felt like I made some good pitches, they got some bats on balls, but we kept them from scoring, [Kurt Suzuki] and I were working well, ‘Zuk was doing a great job behind the plate, and I was able to give the team at least six innings and give the team a chance to win.”
“They did a good job of fouling off the high fastballs,” Scherzer added, “... and lefties on the cutters in. [Curtis] Granderson had a really long AB against me, and just grinded my at bats, and ran up my pitch count, so they’ve got some guys that can just foul off some pitches and when they do get the mistakes they were able to hit them.
“They were able to get some base hits, so, they know me, and they’ve seen me over the years, they know me, they know what my pitches look like, so it’s always a battle any time I face them.”
“He threw unbelievable,” Scherzer’s manager said.
“That sixth inning he let it all out there, you know, and we talked before, he had 103 pitches, and I told him that was good, ‘We’ll hold it right here.’”
They didn’t hold it, of course. Scherzer finished the day with a 3.26 ERA, a 2.29 FIP, 17 walks (1.98 BB/9), and 102 Ks (11.87 K/9) in 12 starts and 77 1⁄3 IP. He’s still (2-5) after receiving no decision, with the Nationals 2-10 in his outings after the 3-2 loss.