There were blown leads, bullpen issues, too many walks, and not enough runs on Saturday, but the Washington Nationals can still win the series in Comerica Park if they can take one more in the series finale this afternoon.
Max Scherzer is on the mound in the third of three with the Detroit Tigers, going up against his former team for the first time since 2016, when he struck out 20 of 33 batters over nine innings on the mound in Nationals Park.
Scherzer, who pitched for the Tigers from 2010-14, has talked before about being motivated going up against his former teams, and taking some pleasure in showing them what they’re missing.
“Oh yeah, of course,” Scherzer told reporters back in 2017, as quoted by ESPN’s Eddie Matz, before he went against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who had drafted him in the 1st round in 2006, but traded him to the Tigers a few years later.
“You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. Any time you face your old team, you’re going to be excited to go out there and get them. But you have to find something that motivates you every single time. You can’t go out there and rely on ‘this is a former team and I’m going to take it to them.’ You actually have to be motivated to win. Winning is the single greatest motivator of anything there is. Even though you want to win, you want to win against your former teams.”
Scherzer goes into today’s outing unbeaten in his last seven starts with a 0.92 ERA and a .179/.226/.268 line against in 49 IP over that stretch.
GM Mike Rizzo, who drafted Scherzer as the scouting director in Arizona and signed him in D.C., told 106.7 the FAN’s Sports Junkies this week that the determination the Nationals’ ace brings to his job was apparent when the D-backs took him with the 11th overall pick in ‘06.
“It’s just the attitude,” Rizzo explained. “That’s the reason we took him in 2006 was the way he went after people. It was his competitiveness on the mound.
“You know, his stuff was good, it wasn’t elite, and he came into the league and was a good pitcher, and was traded and that type of thing. This guy’s makeup made him what he is.
”He has some God-given ability, but this guy squeezes out every ounce of ability and capability that he has in each and every start.”
Scherzer takes on the Tigers today trying to help his team to a series win after Saturday’s disappointing loss snapped a four-game win streak.
Davey Martinez turned the page as soon as the second game of the three-game set came to an end yesterday, telling reporters the focus was immediately on today’s matchup.
“We battled back ... and we gave up a couple runs late in the game, but we’ve got a chance tomorrow to win the series and let’s focus on that,” Martinez said.
He’ll have a focused starter on the mound against the Tigers.