Max Scherzer went up against the New York Mets for the third time in 2020 in his final start of the season on Saturday night, after giving up seven hits and two earned runs over seven innings pitched in his two previous outings against the Washington Nationals’ NL East rival, one of which was cut short by a right hamstring issue.
It didn’t get off to a great start, but he finished strong this time.
Wilson Ramos hit a 1-2 cutter up in the zone out to center, 440 ft. from home for a two-run blast in the third, after Scherzer walked the leadoff batter, Luis Guillorme, 2-0 NY.
Amed Rosario hit a 95 MPH 1-1 fastball from Scherzer out to center in the top of the fourth, 3-1, after the Nationals got on the board in the bottom of the third.
Scherzer held the Mets there as the Nationals rallied to tie it at 3-3, and left runners on the corners when he picked up back-to-back strikeouts in the sixth for outs Nos. 2-3 of a hard-fought, scoreless, 19-pitch top of the inning which ended his outing.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 2 HRs, 109 P, 74 S, 6/2 GO/FO.
“There were a couple pitches that obviously you want back, it seems like that happens every start,” Scherzer said after what ended up a 4-3 win in the nation’s capital.
“They made me pay when I made mistakes,” the three-time Cy Young winner added, “[Ramos] is a great hitter, was able to hit a homer, two-run shot.
“That’s a tough one to swallow, especially when you know you’re going up against [Jacob] deGrom and runs are going to be limited.
“But did a good job with Yan [Gomes] today. We kind of had a good game plan coming in, of how we wanted to attack and we threw a ton of strikes and executed. So, was able to find a way to just navigate around some of those runs and keep their offense at bay, and when it gets to where things were really hairy there in the sixth, we continued to execute and I feel really strong in those situations.”
Max Scherzer, Filthy 89mph Cutter. pic.twitter.com/bRZUESMqdQ— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 26, 2020
Scherzer generated 13 swinging strikes, eight with his fastball (which sat just under 95 MPH and got up to 97 even in his final inning of work), and 15 called strikes (eight with his fastball) overall on the night.
The right-hander was especially pleased that he was able to work out of trouble in the sixth, with the back-to-back Ks from his last two batters getting him out of a jam.
“I’ve been getting beat earlier in the year in those situations where I’m deep in the game and game is on the line I haven’t come through,” Scherzer said, “and I feel like in the past two outings I’ve been in those situations now and I’m executing late. It just stinks that the year is over.”
“He was good again,” manager Davey Martinez said after the Nationals beat the Mets in the nightcap of the doubleheader as well, “and that last inning when he came out, he had a lot of pitches but you watched him throw his fastball at 97, so, that tells me that he still had stuff in the tank, but he gave us exactly what we needed.
“But I’m glad he finished up strong and he feels good about himself going into the winter, and now he gets to rest for a little bit and then get after it and get ready for 2021.”
Scherzer said the final two of his seven Ks on the day from Rosario and Guillormen, were the result of, “feeling the flow of the game and what you want to execute in that situation.”
“Either you want a ground ball or you want a strikeout in those situations, and fortunately against Rosario, after a handful of offspeed pitches, was able to get a fastball by him.
“And then with Guillorme, to get him in the hole and then execute some fastballs up to generate the swing and miss as well, so for me, that’s executing with locations at 110 pitches. That’s what I’m built to be able to do.
“That’s when you get in mid-season form and you get on a run and you go. I said, “My body feels like it’s September, but my arm feels like it’s May.”