Max Scherzer gave up a season highs in hits (9) and runs (6) in 5 1⁄3 innings pitched last time out before Sunday, in a 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
Summing up his 2020 season so far, which had seen him post a 4.04 ERA, 3.30 FIP, 19 walks, 79 Ks, and a .267/.325/.434 line against in 10 starts and 55 2⁄3 IP, Scherzer said following that start that he knows he’s capable of more.
“I expect better out of myself,” Scherzer said. “I expect to be pitching deep into games and holding the other team at bay, and when I have the lead, protect the lead. So, for the most part, sometimes I’ve been doing that, other times I haven’t.”
Four of the six runs he allowed last time out came in his final inning of work in the sixth.
“I’m generating swings and misses,” he said after the outing.
“This isn’t go back to the drawing board and figure anything out. I really feel good with how all these pitches were executed.
Max Scherzer, Pretty 85mph Changeup (release/slow). pic.twitter.com/JH6HyLrI9V— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 20, 2020
“Really this outing was determined in the sixth inning, so that’s what will frustrate me.”
Sunday afternoon in Miami, the three-time Cy Young winner was taking on the Marlins in the first game of a doubleheader in Marlins Park.
Scherzer was frustrated early this time out as well, when he got a grounder into the shift on the right side with runners on second and third and two out in the first, but an errant throw by Luis García, charging in on the ground ball from the right field grass, was wide of first, and pulled Eric Thames off the bag, allowing the first run to score, 1-0 Fish.
Scherzer retired eight in a row after the first run scored, then stranded two batters after he gave up one- and two-out singles in the bottom of the fourth.
It was tied at 1-1 when he returned to the mound in the fifth and set the Fish down in order in a 10-pitch frame, and he came back out for the sixth at 95 pitches, and gave up a single by Matt Joyce with two down, then an intentional walk, and a base-loading, unintentional free pass to load them up for pinch hitter Starling Marte, who sent a grounder to third that Carter Kieboom handled, but his throw to first short-hopped Eric Thames, who could not keep it in his glove, 2-1 Marlins. That was it for Max...
FWD: Marlins Lead— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) September 20, 2020
Max Scherzer’s Line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 119 P, 78 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
“You think you’re out of the inning and then you’re not. That’s just baseball. It happens,” Scherzer said after the loss in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader.
“When you play those one-run games, you’ve got to play good defense,” Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez said after a 15-0 win in the nightcap of the twin bill.
“You can’t give the other team outs, and we did that the first game. It was disappointing, it really was. I mean, Max gave us everything he had, he got the ground ball, and we couldn’t finish the play.
“That cost us the ballgame. So, when you play those one-run games, or close games like that, you got to play clean baseball, whether it’s baserunning, whether it’s the defense, doing the little things, getting guys over, whatever it may be ... we had an opportunity to win that game.”
Overall, Scherzer said, the outing was, “pretty good. Was executing with all the pitches. Threw a lot of strikes. Didn’t walk anybody until the sixth.”
Scherzer gave up a two-out single by Matt Joyce in the sixth, put Miguel Rojas on after pinch runner Monte Harrison stole second, and Jon Berti took the base-loading walk.
“Really the frustrating walk there was Berti,” Scherzer said, “that was a big situation where I needed to get that guy out.
Max Scherzer, Gross 86mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/kVvDuYM7de— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 20, 2020
“You don’t want to walk a guy in that situation to make things even worse.
“But was able to find rhythm with everything, worked well with Yan [Gomez], for the first time this year, and that’s the real good thing. I don’t pick catchers. I don’t play that game. But to sit here and actually have Yan, we were on the same page and executing pitches together, we did some good things tonight.”
Asked how he’s handled the 2020 campaign, and if it’s been frustrating for him personally, Scherzer said, “just like anything you have ups and downs but you just have to continue to go out there and grind.
“This is the big leagues, sometimes you get beat, and that’s frustrating. As a whole, there’s things I’ve done well and things I haven’t. And the things I look at tonight, I felt like I located the baseball pretty well today, and I feel like that’s the reason why I was executing pitches today. That’s what you do, you just take it one day at a time and you move on.”