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Washington Nationals’ mistake-filled loss wastes another Max Scherzer start...

The Washington Nationals are 1-7 in eight starts by Max Scherzer this season. That is all.

Washington Nationals v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Winless in four starts, with a 4.61 ERA, three walks, 34 Ks, and a .278/.297/.435 line against in 27 13 innings pitched over that stretch, Max Scherzer took the mound in Miller Park with a 4.08 ERA after seven starts this season, in which he was (1-4) with the Washington Nationals 1-6 with their ace on the mound through a month-plus in 2019.

“It’s been frustrating,” manager Davey Martinez said after a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in start No. 7 for the Nationals’ ace.

“And I’m sure it’s frustrating for Max, too, but true to form, he’s a competitor.”

Given a 2-0 lead to work with before he took the mound last night, Scherzer gave one back in the bottom of the first with Ben Gamel doubling to start the inning and scoring on a two-out single to center by Mike Moustakas, who smoked a 96 MPH 3-1 fastball. Carter Kieboom leapt for it at short but couldn’t bring down, 2-1.

Kieboom booted a two-out grounder to short in the bottom of the second, with runners on second and third base, allowing the second run of the game to score on what should have been an inning-ending out, 2-2.

Scherzer held the Brewers there through five, piling up strikeouts, with nine total from 21 batters, and he picked up his 10th in the sixth, after he’d allowed the home team to load them up with one out. But he worked his way out of the jam in a 23-pitch inning which did end his outing after 112 pitches overall.

Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 Ks, 112 P, 70 S, 6/0 GO/FO.

The Nationals actually retook the lead in the top of the seventh, on a solo homer by Adam Eaton, but with Dan Jennings on the mound, a misplay by Brian Dozier on a grounder to second, a wild pitch, and back-to-back singles tied it up at 3-3, and the fourth error of the game (which was the Nationals’ ninth error in the last three games) extended the inning and loaded the bases before a sac fly put the Brewers ahead 4-3, in what ended up a 5-3 loss for the visiting Nationals.

“Just couldn’t make plays,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters after the Nationals’ 7th loss in the last 10 games.

“I mean Jennings came in, threw a ground ball, threw some really good pitches. We talk about it — almost every day — when you give teams 31 outs a game, 32 outs a game, it’s tough to win. I mean it is. We’ve got to play better defense. I’ve said that all along. You’ve got your horse out there and pitching really well. Even the line drive should have been caught, ground ball should have been turned, and if you think about it, the big issue is — is the pitches. It cost Max pitches, cost him another inning. You get Max out there in the seventh inning, we’re in great shape. But we’ve got to start playing defense. I say it all the time, you know, the hitting comes and goes, but we’ve got to catch the ball. We’ve got to catch the ball.”

With all the mistakes (nine errors in three games, and 27 total on the season, third-most in the National League, and a .978 fld% on the season, 13th of 15 NL teams) is it just building, with all the mistakes adding pressure, leading to more errors, etc.?

“For me it’s just about these guys get their reps in,” Martinez said. “They’ve done it probably a million times, I mean they’ve done it since they were five years old, it’s no different. Just like I said, the ball is hit to you just get an out. We’re not asking you to do anything superb, just get an out. We just need outs.”

Scherzer received no decision in the outing, but the Nats are now 1-7 in his eight starts this season, over which he has a 3.78 ERA, (a 1.96 FIP), and a .259/.293/.405 line against in 52 13 IP.

“It is frustrating,” Martinez said. “He’s kept us in the ballgame every game, and I know our offense will turn on again, but like I said, he pitched good enough today to win that game.

“We gave up four runs I think on runs we shouldn’t have gave up. But he pitched well, I mean he settled down a little bit and he got some good outs, typical of Max, you know, so it’s a game that — I know we didn’t score a lot of runs, but a game that we should have won.”