Max Scherzer tossed seven scoreless on 106 pitches in the second of four with the Arizona Diamondbacks in Nationals Park, and Washington’s 36-year-old starter passed Hall of Fame hurler Cy Young for 22nd on MLB’s all-time strikeout leaders list with the 8th of his 10 Ks on the night in what ended up a 1-0 win for the home team when Kyle Schwarber hit a one-out bomb in the bottom of the ninth. Schwarbomb?
Scherzer vs AZ: Max Scherzer held the LA Dodgers to a run on three hits in six innings of work in a 91-pitch effort on the mound in Chavez Ravine, with the one run scoring on a fly ball to left-center that was lost in the sun.
Scherzer, 36, talked after the outing about the positives he pulled from his second start of the season, after he gave up five hits and four runs, all on solo home runs, in his 2021 debut.
“I was kind of executing all the pitches,” he said. “Threw some good cutters, some good changeups, some good sliders to right-handers. Was pitching well today.”
Max Scherzer, Filthy 86mph Changeup. pic.twitter.com/6cnytc9XbV— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 16, 2021
Start No. 3 for the three-time Cy Young award winner started with three scoreless against the Arizona Diamondbacks in D.C., which he completed on just 44 pitches, retiring eight straight after giving up a one-out single in the first.
Scherzer was up to 11 in a row retired, and 53 pitches on the night, after a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the fourth, but the streak ended at 13 straight, when he issued a two-out walk to the D-backs’ catcher Carson Kelly in the top of the fifth inning.
He walked Josh Rojas as well, to extend the inning, but picked up his 7th K and the third out from the opposing pitcher, stranding both the runners he put on.
After working around Tim Locastro’s leadoff single in a 18-pitch sixth, Scherzer was up to 90 pitches on the night, with just two hits allowed in the scoreless effort.
Scherzer came back out for the seventh and struck out the side in a 16-pitch frame, which left him at 106 pitches overall on the night, and all alone in the 22nd spot on the list of the all-time strikeout leaders in the majors (see below).
Max Scherzer, elevated 94mph Fastball and K Stalk.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 17, 2021
Passes Cy Young on the All Time K list. pic.twitter.com/O2DtyAQKSc
Max Scherzer’s Line: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 106 P, 68 S, 2/6 GO/FO.
Widener vs D.C.: Taylor Widener, a 26-year-old right-hander, was a 2016 12th Round pick out of the University of South Carolina by the New York Yankees acquired by Arizona in a seven-player, three-team trade in 2018. Widener debuted in the majors with 12 appearances out of the bullpen in 2020, but he made the Diamondbacks’ rotation this spring.
After tossing six scoreless in his first start in the majors, Widener gave up seven hits and a total of four runs, three earned, in five innings the second time out, taking the loss in an 83-pitch outing which left him with a 2.45 ERA and a .244/.304/.390 line against on the year.
Widener retired the first four batters he faced tonight before Josh Harrison (naturellement) singled to center for the Nationals’ first hit, and Starlin Castro dumped a single into short right field in the next at bat, but both runners were eventually stranded.
The D-backs’ righty completed five scoreless on 73 pitches, matching Max Scherzer inning for scoreless inning.
Juan Soto walked to start the sixth, with the score still 0-0, but the Nationals failed to make anything of the leadoff batter getting on as Widener completed his sixth scoreless frame at 94 pitches overall.
Taylor Widener’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 94 P, 60 S, 6/7 GO/FO.
Cy Young K Total: Max Scherzer started the night with 2,798 career strikeouts, eight away from tying Hall of Fame hurler Cy Young (2,806 Ks) for 22nd on Major League Baseball’s all-time strikeout leaders list, though as the Nationals noted, “... different statistics providers present a different strikeout total for Cy Young... according to the Elias Sports Bureau (the official statistician of Major League Baseball), Young’s career strikeout total is 2,806.”
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young award winner, picked up three in the first two innings of his third start of the 2021 campaign tonight, against the Arizona Diamondbacks he debuted for back in April of 2008, when he picked up his first K from the first batter he faced, before he added six more strikeouts that night (in a relief appearance).
Scherzer added his fourth K in the third inning, and picked up two more in the fourth for six total on the night, then struck out the opposing pitcher for K No. 7 and out No. 3 in the fifth.
His eighth K came in the first at bat of the seventh, when Scherzer threw a 94 MPH 2-2 heater by Josh VanMeter for his 2,806th career strikeout. He picked up 2,807 in the next at bat and passed Young to take sole possession of the 22nd spot on the list. Of course he got 2,808 in the final at bat of the inning, striking out the side to finish strong with 10 Ks from 25 batters faced in a 106-pitch outing.
Next on the list is another Hall of Famer, Mike Mussina, who piled up 2,813 strikeouts in his 18-year major league career.
Harrison Streaking: Josh Harrison’s season started late after he ended up on the COVID-IL on Opening Day, but the 33-year-old veteran has tried to make up for lost time with hits in his first four games before tonight, going 8 for 15 (.533/.588/.800) with a double and a HR over that stretch, and he extended his hit streak to five straight with the first hit of the night off D-backs’ starter Taylor Widener in the second, before singling again in the fourth.
Davey Martinez talked before the game about how Harrison has been able to come out swinging it after close to two weeks off, while some others who ended up on the IL are seemingly still knocking off the rust and finding their rhythm.
“A little shorter swing, not so complicated,” Martinez said. “Some of these big guys have different things in their swings. I think for him, his swing is not as complicated.”
Bullpen Action: Kevin Ginkel was first out of the bullpen for Arizona, and he retired the Nats in order in the bottom of the seventh to keep it a 0-0 game.
Daniel Hudson (with some help from a slimmed-down, range-y Victor Robles, who made a spectacular catch in left-center) picked up two Ks in an 1-2-3 8th.
D-backs’ lefty Alex Young retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Brad Hand got the top of the ninth for the Nats and the southpaw worked around a two-out single by Nick Ahmed for a scoreless, 17-pitch frame. Still 0-0.
Alex Young returned to the mound in the Nationals’ half of the ninth and gave up a walk-off winner by Kyle Schwarber, who hit one 463 feet to right.
Final Score: 1-0 Nationals
Nationals now 4-7