Max Scherzer threw 100 pitches in five innings, but only gave up two runs, and Washington scored four off Chicago Cubs’ starter Jake Arrieta, with Trea Turner (who also scored from third base on a wild pitch) and Victor Robles both singling to drive in runs before Juan Soto homered off the right-handed veteran in a 4-3 win for the Nationals. Also, Davey Martinez got tossed in one of the more entertaining ejections in years, which you can watch below...
Scherzer vs the Cubs: Max Scherzer has bounced back nicely from a rough outing against the Blue Jays in which he gave up eight hits and seven runs, five earned, in five innings.
In his last three starts heading into tonight’s matchup, the 36-year-old, three-time Cy Young winner had a 0.84 ERA (2 ER in 21 1⁄3 IP) and a .127/.162/.211 line against.
A sore throat and a big lead led the Nationals to end his start against the D-backs after just five innings this past weekend.
“He gave us what he had and I thought it was a perfect time to get him out of the game and give him a little blow,” manager Davey Martinez explained.
“He’s been really, really good, and we want to keep him healthy.”
Tonight in Wrigley Field, Scherzer tossed a scoreless, eight-pitch first against the Cubs, but a one-out single by David Bote and a two-out walk to Eric Sogard in the second set Nico Hoerner up with an RBI opportunity he cashed in with a bloop single to right-center that fell in for a hit. Bote scored on the play, but Sogard was thrown out at home on a Victor Robles-to-Trea-Turner-to-Yan Gomes relay, 1-0 Cubs after two.
Scherzer held the Cubs there through four, though his pitch count climbed to 66 after 21- and 22-pitch innings in the third and fourth, respectively.
Jake Arrieta and Joc Pederson hit back-to-back one-out singles off Scherzer in the bottom of the fifth inning, and the Nationals’ starter missed with a low, 3-2 slider to Kris Bryant in the next at bat, issuing a base-loading walk. Ian Happ dropped an RBI single into center to make it a two-run game, 4-2, but Scherzer struck Willson Contreras out for out No. 2, and got David Bote to pop out to end a 34-pitch frame, which left the Nationals’ starter at 100 pitches.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 Ks, 100 P, 66 S, 0/2 GO/FO.
Arrieta vs the Nationals: After pitching for the Cubs between 2013-17, then leaving via free agency to sign with the Phillies (2018-20), Jake Arrieta returned to Chicago on a 1-year/$6M deal this winter, and through three starts back at home in Wrigley Field this season, heading into tonight’s outing, the veteran right-hander was (2-1) with a 1.59 ERA and a .177/.261/.274 line against in 17 IP, versus his (2-2) record, 6.20 ERA, and .286/.337/.584 line against in 20 1⁄3 IP on the road early this season.
Going up against the Nationals tonight in the friendly confines, the 35-year-old right-hander got off to a good start with two scoreless on 25 pitches, but Victor Robles doubled to right-center with one out in the third, and scored from second on a Trea Turner single to center in the next at bat, 1-1, after the Cubs jumped out to an early lead.
Juan Soto singled in the next at bat, for the third straight hit, sending Turner over to third base, and he scored on a wild pitch to Josh Bell, 2-1. Soto moved up on the pitch as well, and Josh Bell walked in the at bat that followed, but both were stranded at the end of a 27-pitch frame by Arrieta.
Yan Gomes doubled off the Cubs’ starter with one out in the third, and scored from second on a two-out liner to left by Victor Robles, who turned his ankle rounding first but stayed in the game after adding to the lead, 3-1.
It was a 4-1 game in the Nationals’ favor after Juan Soto hit a 3-2 slider 421 feet to right and off the scoreboard in Wrigley for his 4th home run of the season.
Jake Arrieta’s Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 94 P, 52 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
No. 19: With his third strikeout tonight, Max Scherzer tied Hall of Fame hurler Jim Bunning for 19th on MLB’s all-time strikeout leaderboard with his 2,855th career K, and he got K No. 2,856 in a scoreless third to take over the 19th spot on the list.
Bullpen Action: Tommy Nance took over for the Cubs in the top of the sixth, and retired the side in order in a 12-pitch inning.
Kyle Finnegan retired the side in order in a 13-pitch sixth.
Davey Martinez was ejected in the top of the seventh when Trea Turner was called out for interfering with the throw/running out of the box/whatever on the way to first base on a wild pitch strike three. Martinez got his money’s worth on the way out, and even yanked the first base bag out and kicked it before leaving...
Davey Martinez just lost it after Trea Turner was called out running to first base on a wild pitch strike three: pic.twitter.com/U3Iz0rtX6B— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) May 20, 2021
Nance and Rex Brothers combined for a scoreless seventh inning to keep it a two-run game in the Nationals’ favor, 4-2.
Finnegan returned to the mound in the bottom of the seventh but was lifted after giving up a one-out double by Joc Pederson.
Daniel Hudson took over and popped Kris Bryant up to short center field, where Andrew Stevenson made a diving catch for out No. 2.
Ryan Tepera tossed scoreless eighth for the Cubs.
Hudson came back out for the Nationals in the bottom of the eighth inning, and worked around a one-out walk to keep it a 4-2 game.
Cubs’ righty Dillon Maples hit Andrew Stevenson in the first at bat of the ninth, and gave up a single to center by Trea Turner, putting two on in front of Juan Soto, who grounded back to the mound and into a force at second. With runners on the corners and one out, Josh Bell grounded out to third.
Brad Hand came on for the save opportunity and gave up a one-out home run to left on a 93 MPH, 0-1 fastball up that Javier Báez clobbered, 4-3. Joc Pederson K’d swinging on another 93 MPH, 3-2 fastball for out No. 2. Kris Bryant stepped in with a two-out chance to tie it and kept the inning alive with a line drive to left. Pinch hitter Matt Duffy? Bryant stole second with Duffy at the plate, and it went to a full count before Duffy took a fastball inside for a called third strike. Ballgame. Phew.
Final Score: 4-3 Nationals
Nationals now 17-22