Max Scherzer struck out 11 of the 23 batters he faced in six innings, generating 21 swinging strikes, and getting 12 called strikes, in the 92-pitch outing in what ended up a 10-2 win for the Washington Nationals in the series opener with the Boston Red Sox in Fenway Park. He reached double digits in Ks for the 97th time in his career, tying Sandy Koufax, behind only four pitchers (Pedro Martinez - 108; Roger Clemens - 110; Randy Johnson - 212; and Nolan Ryan - 215) for the most outings with 10+ Ks in their careers.
Scherzer vs the Phillies: Max Scherzer was unbeaten in his last five starts, after taking a loss in his 2020 debut, but the Nationals’ veteran hadn’t been sharp over that stretch, leaving a start early with a hamstring issue, and struggling in his previous two outings before tonight.
With a (2-0) record, 6.94 ERA, and a .300/.352/.560 line against in 11 2⁄3 innings pitched in those outings, he hadn’t looked like himself, and he acknowledged as much after giving up all four runs he allowed last time out in his final inning of work in the fifth.
“I believe that I can pitch in tough spots in the game, even late in the game,” Scherzer said, “even when my pitch count is over 100. I still believe I can execute in those situations.
“Unfortunately, the last couple games I haven’t done that, and I need to get better at that.”
Max Scherzer, 95mph Fastball (home plate view) pic.twitter.com/dsLQ92Bp0E— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 29, 2020
Looking to bounce back from two disappointing outings, Scherzer tossed two scoreless to start tonight’s matchup with the Red Sox and came back out with a 5-0 lead and retired the first two batters in the third, before Alex Verdugo (single) and Rafael Devers (RBI double) connected for back-to-back hits to get the home team on the board, down 5-1 at that point.
Scherzer was up to eight Ks (from 16 batters faced) after he struck out three Sox around a two-out single in a 15-pitch fourth which left him at 70 pitches overall, and he added one more in a 14-pitch fifth, and two more in an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth, which left him with 11 overall (from 23 batters faced) on 92 pitches. That was it for Max tonight, who left the hill ahead 7-1.
Max Scherzer, Ks 10 and 11. pic.twitter.com/Csy1BkY4uV— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 29, 2020
Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 Ks, 92 P, 63 S, 1/3 GO/FO.
Pérez vs the Nationals: Martín Pérez, 29, held Baltimore’s Orioles to one run on five hits over seven innings last time out before tonight, leaving the lefty with a 3.45 ERA, 15 walks, 23 Ks, and a .198/.305/.351 line against in six starts and 31 1⁄3 IP this season.
Tonight at home, in Fenway, the southpaw was going up against a Nationals club that had a .306/.350/.537 line against lefties this season, good for 3rd/6th/2nd across the line among MLB teams.
Pérez tossed two scoreless and hitless to start, but the Nationals put runners on second and third with one out in the third inning, and Trea Turner hit a chopper over third base to score both Michael A. Taylor (who grounded into a force at second but beat out a potential 5-4-3), and Victor Robles, (who doubled to left), 2-0. Juan Soto followed with a two-run homer on a 3-0 changeup from Pérez, who gave up a solo shot on a 3-1 change to Howie Kendrick next, 5-0. Soto’s 9th. Kendrick’s 2nd.
With runners (Victor Robles and Turner) on first (Turner) and third (Robles), and two out, and Soto at the plate in the fourth, the Nationals pulled the old steal and stop, with Turner taking off for second, and sliding to a stop ahead of the bag as Robles sped home, beating the Sox to the punch (or in this case “tag” of Turner) and scoring the sixth run of the game, 6-1. CS 2-6-3, run scored in the books according to Nats’ PR.
Martín Pérez’s Line: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2 HRs, 82 P 55 S, 7/1 GO/FO.
Turn-on: Trea Turner started the night with a 12-game hit streak, over which the 27-year-old shortstop was 19 for 47 (.404 AVG), with three doubles, two triples, three home runs, eight RBIs, four walks, two HBPs, and 15 runs scored. He also had an 18-game on-base streak, with a .451 OBP in those 18 games. A two-run double in his second at bat extended both streaks and put the Nationals up 2-0 early in the series opener with the Sox.
BULLPEN ACTION: Robert Stock got a 1-6-3 DP out of Asdrúbal Cabrera after a one-out single by Howie Kendrick, completing a scoreless fifth. Still 6-1 Nationals.
Stock returned to the mound in the sixth and gave up a single by Kurt Suzuki and a walk to Adam Eaton. Eaton was erased from the basepaths on a double play ground ball off of Josh Harrison’s bat, but Suzuki moved to third on the play, and scored on an infield single off of Michael A. Taylor’s bat with two out, 7-1.
Lefty Jeffrey Springs came on for the Sox in the seventh and retired the Nationals in order.
Kyle Finnegan replaced Max Scherzer in the bottom of the seventh and retired the Red Sox in order in an eight-pitch seventh.
Springs came back out for the top of the eighth, and gave up a two-out, two-run home run to deeeep center by Josh Harrison, whose second of the season made it a 9-1 game.
Michael A. Taylor reached via HBP, took second on a Victor Robles’ single, and scored on an RBI double by Trea Turner, 10-1.
Ben Braymer made his MLB debut in the bottom of the eighth, and worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless, 17-pitch frame. Still 10-1.
Braymer came back out for the ninth and gave up a walk, three singles, and a run before he was done for the night, with the bases loaded.
Ryne Harper took over and got a fly to left for out No. 2 (without a run scoring), and a fly to center to end it.
Final Score: 10-2 Nationals
Nationals now 12-17