In his previous two outings, before last night’s in the series opener with the Boston Red Sox, Max Scherzer gave up 15 hits, three walks, and nine earned runs in 11 2⁄3 innings, with hitters putting up a .300/.352/.560 line against the Washington Nationals’ ace.
Taking on the Miami Marlins, Scherzer tossed four scoreless to start before he gave up five of the seven hits he allowed overall, and all four runs, in the fifth and final frame for the 36-year-old veteran.
Scherzer threw 31 pitches before he was lifted with two out in the inning, but in spite of his struggles as he went from 77 to 108 pitches, the three-time Cy Young award winner said he still believes he’s capable of doing his best work late in his outings.
“I train for those situations, I’ve had success in those situations, and the fact that there’s been a couple times where I haven’t had success doesn’t mean I’m going to continue to have failure in those situations,” Scherzer said.
Max Scherzer, 95mph Fastball (home plate view) pic.twitter.com/dsLQ92Bp0E— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 29, 2020
“I believe that I can pitch in tough spots in the game, even late in the game, 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.”
Scherzer started strong in the series opener with the Red Sox last night in Boston’s Fenway Park, holding the home team to a run on six hits while striking out nine through five.
It was 7-1 in the Nats’ favor when the starter returned to the mound in the sixth and added two Ks for 11 total (from 23 batters faced) on 92 pitches overall.
Max Scherzer, Ks 10 and 11. pic.twitter.com/Csy1BkY4uV— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 29, 2020
That was it for the righty against the Sox. He finished the outing with 21 swinging strikes (10 with his four-seamer), and 12 called strikes (seven w/ his FB) on the night.
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.
Was Scherzer happy that he finished strong and went out on a high note in what ended up a 10-2 win?
“I don’t care about the ending, I care about how I pitch,” the three-time Cy Young award-winner said.
What was different for the 36-year-old veteran this time out?
“Made a tweak,” Scherzer explained. “I saw some video where my hands were lower. I raised my hands tonight and kind of squared up my shoulders, and kept my left shoulder from rolling forward, and I felt like I was in a better direction tonight. And I felt like that really allowed me to really just be able to execute high fastballs with a lot more ease tonight.
“I didn’t have to try to drive the ball up. I just was able to naturally throw a fastball up, and when I can do that and work with [Kurt Suzuki], that’s when we can start sequencing and every pitch starts playing off each other.
“When I pitch with my fastball and locate, that’s when I pitch my best. And so that’s what I’m most happy about today. I think five of the six hits were on located pitches.
“There’s only one at bat, the [Xander] Bogaerts’ single, where I left a pitch over the middle. Other than that I was happy with my execution.
“That’s what has me feeling that that was a good start. Finishing strong at the end, I know I can finish strong at the end. I train, I do everything I can. The fact that I haven’t been able to do it, is just — I didn’t get the job done but I always know that I can.”
Max Scherzer, Dirty 92mph Cutter. ✂️ pic.twitter.com/wCV5HkCo22— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 29, 2020
“Max set the tone, really. I mean, he came out, he pitched really well,” Davey Martinez said after his club’s 10-2 win.
What did he see from his ace?
“I think for me it’s just location with him,” the skipper said.
“His cutter, he wants to get it down and in to lefties, when he does that it’s a really good pitch. His fastball, it’s all about location. And that’s what he had today.
“He had good fastball, he located it well, so he threw all his pitches well. He threw a couple changeups that were really [good] too, so that was good to see.”
“I executed that pitch really well tonight,” Scherzer said of his cutter, “... but I also think that pitch played up because my fastball was playing up.
“Every pitch plays off each other, and when the fastball plays up, it makes every other pitch better, so the more pitches that you have, and the more you can locate every pitch, then every pitch continues to be better. So I felt like the success that I was able to have on the cutter tonight was a result of the fastball.
“But at the same time, Zuk and I we did a good job of game planning for these guys and understanding what we wanted to accomplish today with their guys and when we wanted to execute pitches and we did a great job of sequencing that in, and executing as well.”