Max Scherzer returned to the mound in the seventh inning of a 5-4 game in Washington’s favor this afternoon, at 96 pitches, and recorded two outs before giving up a game-tying solo home run by Orioles’ outfielder Anthony Santander, whose second home run off the Nationals’ starter today made it 5-5 in Baltimore’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
In the top of the eighth, however, Juan Soto walked, reaching base for the fourth time in five plate appearances today, then scored on a two-out error to put the Nats back on top, 6-5, in what ended up a one-run win for the visiting team.
Scherzer vs the Orioles: Max Scherzer bounced back a start after he went just one inning before a hamstring injury ended an outing against the New York Mets, and he held the NL East rivals to a run on six hits in six innings this past Tuesday in Citi Field, walking two, with seven Ks in what ended up a 105-pitch effort in which he showed no signs of a lingering issue.
“We were watching him. His mechanics were good. Just his location was a little off, but he felt good. We talked to him during the game and he said he felt fine,” Davey Martinez said.
“That last inning he came in and said, ‘I still got a lot in the tank.’ And we talked about how many pitches we felt like we could give him, and he finished off right exactly where we wanted him to, 105.”
This time out, the three-time Cy Young award winner took the mound with a 3-0 lead and gave up a run early on a 1-0 fastball low and inside that didn’t make it low and in enough, allowing Anthony Santander to go down and get it and send it out to right field for a solo shot, 3-1.
Scherzer worked around a single in the second, retired the Orioles in order in the third, and stranded two singles while picking up three more Ks in the fourth, leaving him at seven Ks overall on the afternoon, from 16 batters faced, on 61 pitches, with the score still 3-1 in the Nationals’ favor.
Max Scherzer, Disgusting 86mph Slider...and Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/qde0h3tKBC— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 16, 2020
It was 5-1 when he came out for the fifth and picked up two more Ks as he worked around a bunt single in a 12-pitch frame. 9 Ks. 73 pitches.
A leadoff walk, one-out single, and a wild pitch put runners on second and third with one out in the Orioles’ half of the sixth, and Pedro Severino stepped in and hit a 95 MPH, 2-0 fastball out to left for a three-run blast that made it a one-run game, 5-4 Nationals.
Scherzer came back out for the seventh, at 96 pithces, with Tanner Rainey warmed up in the bullpen, and picked up his 10th K (from 27 batters faced) before he gave up a second solo shot to right field off Santander’s bat. Two-run blast, 5-5 game...
Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 10 Ks, 3 HRs, 111 P, 75 S, 3/2 GO/FO.
What this Means?: John Means returned from the bereavement list to make today’s start, after losing his father to a year-long battle with pancreatic cancer. In his first two outings this season, the O’s left-hander gave up four hits and six runs in seven innings total, with opposing hitters putting up just a .160/.250/.400 line against the 27-year-old.
The first three Nationals’ hitters he faced reach base this afternoon, however, with Trea Turner working an 11-pitch walk before back-to-back singles by Juan Soto and Asdrúbal Cabrera, who’s RBI line drive to left brought Turner around, 1-0.
Kurt Suzuki dropped a bloop single into short right field in the next at bat, loading them up with no one out, then Carter Kieboom battled back from 1-2 to 3-2 and sent a sac fly to left to bring Soto in and make it 2-0. Victor Robles’s two-out RBI single ended Means’ day, 3-0.
John Means’ Line: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 34 P, 22 S, 0/0 GO/FO.
Negro League 100th Anniversary: Davey Martinez talked after last night’s game about MLB celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Negro League’s founding this afternoon, with all of the major league teams wearing a patch on their jerseys.
“For me they just opened the doors for so many unbelievable athletes,” Martinez said.
“Especially in our game. They were the root of baseball. They really were, so congratulations for 100 years. It’s amazing.
“I remember meeting a couple of old-timers, Buck O’Neil, I played with a guy, that his uncle, “Oil Can” Boyd, his uncle was Satchel Paige, talked about him a lot, so those guys were real important to our sport.”
BULLPEN ACTION: O’s starter John Means got two outs and gave up three runs before the home team went to the bullpen for right-hander Jorge López, with two on, and the visiting team up 3-0 in the series finale in OPACY.
López got the final out of the first, struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 second, and retired the side in order in the third as well, giving him seven outs in a row after he took over.
Josh Harrison singled off López to start the fourth, but got picked off first base when Victor Robles tried to get a bunt down but didn’t make contact. Robles took a 94 MPH fastball up high and took his base, but was stranded two outs later.
Trea Turner and Juan Soto hit back-to-back singles off of López in the first two at bats of the fifth, and moved up on a wild pitch on a swinging K from Asdrúbal Cabrera. Kurt Suzuki, in the clean-up spot today, hit a sac fly to right that brought in run No. 4, and ended López’s day, 4-1.
Carter Kieboom hit a two-out, two-strike single the other way to right off right-hander Evan Phillips in the at bat that followed and the Nationals went up 5-1 on the O’s.
Phillips walked Juan Soto with two out in the fifth, and a walk by Asdrúbal Cabrera and HBP on Kurt Suzuki loaded the bases, but righty Shawn Armstrong came on and got out No. 3 to keep it a 5-1 game.
Armstrong worked around a HBP on Josh Harrison for a scoreless top of the seventh.
With the score tied at 5-5 in the eighth, Juan Soto walked with one down, taking a free pass from righty Travis Lakins, and Soto was on second base one out later when Kurt Suzuki sent a ground ball to third that Rio Ruiz fielded cleanly before firing a throw to first that came up short and bounced off Renato Núñez’s glove, allowing Soto to score, 6-5.
tfw you're back in line for the Curly W pic.twitter.com/8yOWKA4yqF— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) August 16, 2020
Tanner Rainey hit the first batter he faced in the bottom of the eighth, Renato Núñez, and a wild pitch allowed pinch runner Andrew Velazquez to move into scoring position, but then Rainey threw a 2-2 fastball by Chance Sisco (at 96 MPH), threw a 2-2 fastball by Pedro Severino (at 96 MPH again), and, after Velazquez took third without a throw, got Dwight Smith, Jr. looking too (on 98 MPH 1-2 heater) to strand the potential tying run at third base, still 6-5 Nationals.
Daniel Hudson came on for the save in the O’s ninth and retired the Orioles in order to end it. Ballgame.
Final Score: 6-5 Nationals
Nationals now 8-11