It was the pitchers’ duel we were all expecting, with Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw on the mound in the series finale of the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers’ three-game set in Chavez Ravine. It was a miscue in the outfield, or more of a ball lost in the sun, really, that was the difference as Zach McKinstry hit a 2-out “double” to left-center with one on in the second, and Victor Robles lost it in the midday sun in LA and had it fall in over his head at the wall for the first, and only, run-scoring “hit” off of either starter. 3-0 final in LA.
Nationals get swept in Dodger Stadium. Next stop Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Scherzer in LA: Max Scherzer gave up four solo home runs in six innings in his 2021 debut in D.C. last week, but wrapped up the outing with three scoreless innings, and K’d nine in a 91-pitch effort in what ended up a 6-5, walk-off win for the Nationals.
“I didn’t really think he was finishing his pitches early on in the game,” Davey Martinez told reporters when the manager spoke after that game.
“And then all of a sudden he settled down and he started finishing his pitches, and as you can tell — he retired 12 out of 13 guys, and no one really hit the ball hard.”
Max Scherzer, Beautiful 87mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/Q6kRO6R571— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 11, 2021
“If you miss your spot just by a little bit they’re going to make you pay,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said of the home runs after working with Scherzer for the first time.
“And there’s a couple times that they hit those homers on pitches that they actually hit our spots.”
This afternoon, Scherzer had Lucroy behind the plate again for start No. 2, in the finale in LA’s Dodger Stadium, and he was sharp in the first, retiring the side in order on just seven pitches, but a leadoff single (by Max Muncy) in the second came around to score on a fly ball out to left-center field with two down when Victor Robles lost the ball in the sun, 1-0 Dodgers.
Scherzer held the Dodgers there through four, which he completed on 63 pitches, and he set the home team down in order in an 11-pitch fifth which left him at 74 total. He returned to the mound for the sixth, got help from a slick unassisted DP over at first base, by Ryan Zimmerman, and stranded a two-out double in a 16-pitch frame that pushed him up to 90 pitches overall.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 90 P, 54 S, 4/4 GO/FO.
Kershaw vs Nationals: Clayton Kershaw struggled out of the gate this season, giving up 10 hits and six runs, five earned, over 5 2⁄3 IP in his 2021 debut on the road in Colorado’s Coors Field, but the Dodgers’ World Series-winning, 33-year-old, 14-year veteran put it all together in start No. 2, on the road in Oakland, where he gave up four hits and one run in seven total innings, over which he struck out eight.
Clayton Kershaw, 74mph Cooperstown Curveball. pic.twitter.com/xOnoLpee2p— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 11, 2021
This afternoon, in Chavez Ravine, Kershaw made his first start of the season at home, in the finale of the three-game set with the visiting Nationals.
Kershaw worked around four hits for five scoreless on 72 pitches, and took a 1-0 lead into the sixth, but Trea Turner singled on a swinging bunt that refused to roll foul to lead off in the top of the inning, and he stole second on a ball in the dirt, but was stranded three outs later as the Dodgers’ starter completed his sixth scoreless on 14 pitches, which left him at 86 total on the day.
Clayton Kershaw, Cooperstown Curveball (Ball Trail) pic.twitter.com/UwznO0spYx— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 11, 2021
Clayton Kershaw’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 86 P, 54 S, 5/5 GO/FO.
Tying Cy Young: Aces Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw have six total Cy Young Awards between them, having won, in Scherzer’s case, the AL Cy Young in 2013, and NL Cy Young awards in 2016-17, while Kershaw took home the award named after the Hall of Fame hurler in 2011, ‘13, and ‘14. Their Cy Young days might be behind them at this point, though it will surprise few if either ends up with new trophies before they’re done, but Scherzer, with 13 more Ks, is set to tie Young, and with 14 Ks will surpass the one-time Cleveland Spider, St. Louis Perfecto, Boston American, Boston Red Sock, Cleveland Nap, and Boston Rustler, on MLB’s career K leaderboard (though if you look around you’ll find some discrepancies out there if you check the historical strikeout totals).
Young’s 2,806 (total Ks via Elias Sports and Nationals’ PR) rank 22nd on the All-Time list, and after that it’s Mike Mussina with 2,813. Scherzer added five today for 2,798 in his career.
Bullpen Action: Corey Knebel was first out of the pen for the Dodgers, taking over in the top of the seventh with a 1-0 lead, and retiring the Nationals in order in a 10-pitch frame.
Tanner Rainey gave up a one-out single by Chris Taylor, and a two-out, two-run home run to right-center by Zach McKinstry in the home-half of the seventh, 3-0 Dodgers.
Blake Treinen gave up back-to-back singles to Andrew Stevenson and Victor Robles in the first two at bat of the Nationals’ eighth, but Trea Turner K’d swinging, and Juan Soto took a swing on a 3-0 slider and popped it up for out No. 2. Ryan Zimmerman stepped in next, but grounded out to end the threat.
Brad Hand made his 2021 debut in the bottom of the eighth, retiring the side in order in an 11-pitch frame.
Kenley Jansen came on to close it out and wrapped up the win and sweep with a quick, 1-2-3 frame.
Final Score: 3-0 Dodgers
Nationals now 1-5