Max Scherzer tossed six scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers to start the series finale in Detroit this afternoon, but the Washington Nationals managed just one run to that point, and a game-tying home run by Brandon Dixon in the bottom of the seventh tied things up at 1-1.
A half-inning later, however, a solo shot to right field by Anthony Rendon put the Nationals back on top and the Nats took the third of three and two of three in Comerica Park, 2-1.
Scherzer struck out 14 of the 28 batters he faced in eight strong, finishing up the day at 115 pitches total and extending an unbeaten streak to eight-straight starts.
Scherzer vs the Tigers: “[Max Scherzer has] been great,” former D-backs’ scouting director and current Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies this week, “but he’s been great since we drafted him in 2006.”
“And he’s one of the best pitchers in the league,” Rizzo added, “and day in and day out, start in and start out, he gives you an opportunity to win. He gives you his best.”
Max Scherzer, 85mph Slider and 84mph Changeup, Overlay/ pic.twitter.com/CXTRXyo3Cw— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 30, 2019
Scherzer has been at his best over the last seven outings heading into today’s start, going, (5-0) with a 0.92 ERA in 49 innings in the unbeaten stretch, with eight walks, 69 strikeouts, and a .179/.226/.268 line against.
Taking on the Tigers he pitched for over five seasons from 2010-15, Scherzer held his former team to two hits in five scoreless, striking out seven of the first 14 batters he faced.
Don’t let Juan Soto’s red-hot bat distract you from his glove.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 30, 2019
END 3 // Nats 0, Tigers 0 pic.twitter.com/teKSrCFhxX
Scherzer was up to 89 pitches after he worked around a leadoff single in the sixth, adding his 10th K, but he came back out for the seventh and gave up a one-out solo home run by Brandon Dixon on an 0-1 fastball that went out to right and tied things up at 1-1.
Having thrown 100 pitches total after seven, Scherzer returned to the mound in the eighth and picked up his 12th, 13th, and 14th Ks, striking out the side in a 15-pitch frame.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 14 Ks, 1 HR, 115 P, 86 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
Max Scherzer, Unfair 89mph hard Slider...and Sword. ⚔️— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 30, 2019
Impressive job by Castro of playing it off like he didn't almost fall on his face...by seamlessly taking off his leg guard. pic.twitter.com/Uqm5aBiJHF
Zimmermann vs the Nationals: Jordan Zimmermann signed a 5-year/$110M free agent deal with the Tigers after seven seasons in Washington, over which he was (70-50) in 178 starts, with a 3.32 ERA, a 3.40 FIP, 221 walks, and 903 Ks in 1,094 IP. He’s struggled to stay healthy in his first four seasons in Detroit, putting up a 5.31 ERA, a 4.88 FIP, 109 walks, and 307 Ks in 81 games (80 starts) and 436 IP.
Zimmermann was winless in eight starts this season going into today’s outing, going (0-5) with a 5.95 ERA and a .286/.343/.468 line against in 39 1⁄3 IP, but he got off to a good start with three scoreless on an efficient 33 pitches.
A leadoff double by Anthony Rendon and a walk by Juan Soto in the fourth created action on the basepaths though, and Rendon ended up scoring on a two-out RBI single by Nats’ catcher Kurt Suzuki that got the visiting team on the board, up 1-0 in the fourth.
Zimmermann held the Nationals there through six, and was done for the day after throwing 89 pitches and giving up four hits, two walks, and one earned run.
Jordan Zimmermann’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 89 P, 51 S, 4/4 GO/FO.
SotOBP: With a walk in his second plate appearance on Saturday, Juan Soto extended his on-base streak to 14-straight games, over which the 20-year-old outfielder was 17 for 48 (.354/.458/.729) with two doubles, two triples, four homers, nine walks, and 12 runs scored.
Soto didn’t waste any time extending the streak to 15 straight games in the series finale with the Detroit Tigers, taking a two-out walk from Jordan Zimmermann in the top of the first.
BULLPEN ACTION: Buck Farmer took over on the mound for the Tigers in the top of the seventh innings, with the Nationals on top, 1-0.
Farmer gave up a one-out walk to Brian Dozier, and a single by Victor Robles.
He was replaced by lefty Daniel Stumpf with two on and two outs, and both runners were stranded when Adam Eaton popped up to end the inning.
With the score tied at 1-1 after seven, Anthony Rendon stepped in against Tigers’ righty Joe Jiménez and hit an 0-1 fastball out to right for an opposite field blast, his 19th of 2019, that put the Nationals back on top, 2-1.
José Cisnero took over with a runner on and no one out after a walk to Juan Soto, and gave up a second straight walk to Howie Kendrick, but both runners were stranded at the end of the top of the inning.
Cisnero returned to the mound in the top of the ninth and worked around a two-out single.
Sean Doolittle got the bottom of the ninth for the Nationals and gave up a leadoff single by Nick Castellanos, and a two-out walk to Brandon Dixon ... but he stranded both runners in a scoreless frame. Ballgame. 2-1 final.
Nationals now 42-41