Max Scherzer gave up a two-run home run in the top of the first, then proceeded to retire 16 of the next 17 batters he faced, striking out eight, as he held the Milwaukee Brewers there, but the Brewers’ starter, Brandon Woodruff, was as advertised in the series finale, throwing mostly heat (63% four-seamers and sinkers) in another dominant outing in what ended up a 3-0 win which gave the visitors in the nation’s capital a three-game sweep of their weekend series.
Scherzer vs Milwaukee: Max Scherzer’s unbeaten May ended with an L last time out on the mound, when he gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings of work in what ended up a 2-1 loss to Cincinnati’s Reds in D.C. Both runs came in on solo home runs, the 9th and 10th solo shots off Scherzer this season.
That outing left the Nationals’ 36-year-old right-hander with a 1.62 ERA, seven walks, 47 Ks, and a .167/.228/.281 line against in 33 1⁄3 IP on the month, with a 2.27 ERA, 13 walks, 85 Ks, and a .185/.238./342 line against in ten starts and 63 1⁄3 IP on the year.
“I really liked the way he threw the ball, I really did, I mean, he kept us in the ballgame and that’s all you can ask, he pitched seven inning for us,” Davey Martinez said after Scherzer’s start against the Reds.
In Scherzer’s 11th start of the season, the Nationals needed him to be a stopper, after they’d dropped three straight going into the finale with the Brewers, but he found himself down by two runs early after he gave up a two-out, two-run home run to center by Avisaíl García on a 94 MPH 1-2 fastball up in the zone that went 412 feet, and over the fence, 2-0.
Scherzer retired 16 of the next 17 batters he faced, striking out eight, to get through six on 89 pitches with just the two runs on the board, but with the score still 2-0, the Nationals hit for him when his spot came up in the bottom of the sixth...
Max Scherzer, Wicked Curveballs.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 30, 2021
10Ks thru 6. pic.twitter.com/x0op0PcWuN
Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 Ks, 1 HR, 89 P, 63 S, 3/4 GO/FO.
Woodruff vs Washington: Brandon Woodruff came into today’s outing having given up two runs or fewer in nine of ten starts, with scoreless appearances in three, and just one earned run off him in five. He took the mound in Nationals Park with a 1.41 ERA, 14 walks, 73 Ks, and a stingy .143/.204/.198 line against in 64 IP this season.
Brandon Woodruff, Pretty 85mph Curveball. pic.twitter.com/nQOhIldxEZ— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 30, 2021
“He throws his fastball up in the zone,” Davey Martinez told reporters on Sunday morning, offering a scouting report of the Brewers’ starter in the series finale.
“We got to get him down in the strike zone a little bit ... he’s going to be around the zone, but we got to be ready to hit early, and try to get him early.”
Woodruff took the mound with a 2-0 lead, and walked Juan Soto to start the bottom of the first, then struck two out and got out No. 3 when Soto was caught trying to steal second.
Sam Holbrook remembering, mid-call, that we still play 3 strikes here. pic.twitter.com/ivFt5WOWhn— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 30, 2021
With 1-2-3 innings in both the second and third, Woodruff was up to eight-straight batters set down and 43 pitches overall in 3.0 scoreless.
An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth had him up to 54 pitches total in four scoreless and hitless, but Kyle Schwarber spoiled the nascent no-hit bid with a leadoff single in the top of the fifth.
He got the next three batters, however, and kept his shutout bid going through five.
Yadiel Hernández took the second walk of the game from Woodruff in a one-out pinch hit appearance in the Nationals’ sixth, and he moved up on a two-out, broken-bat single off of Trea Turner’s (broken) bat.
Josh Bell got the first opportunity with a runner in scoring position on the day, but flew out to the left field corner to end the threat.
Woodruff hit for himself with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, in spit of the fact that he was up to 96 pitches after six, but he came back out for the bottom of the seventh and retired the side in order one more time, in a 10-pitch frame...
Brandon Woodruff’s Line: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 Ks, 106 P, 69 S, 5/3 GO/FO.
It is difficult to overstate how good Brandon Woodruff has been this year for Milwaukee. So the numbers can do the talking.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 30, 2021
71 innings, 33 hits, 16 walks, 83 strikeouts, 3 HR, 1.27 ERA in 11 starts.
And now 10 consecutive starts of at least six innings and two or fewer runs.
Keep Your Heads Up: Before the finale with the Brewers this afternoon, Davey Martinez was asked how spirits were in the clubhouse after Saturday’s losses in the doubleheader with Milwaukee put them in a three-game slide with losses in 5 of 10.
“They’ve been good,” the manager said. “I’ll talk to them. Last night I just went around and said, ‘Hey, keep your heads.’ Like I said before, this will turn around, we’ve been here before, but we got to stay positive. We’re not playing bad baseball, we’re just not getting timely hitting, but it will come, so just keep your heads up and keep playing hard.”
Bullpen Action: Kyle Finnegan was the first arm out of the bullpen for either team, and he issued three walks in the seventh, loading the bases with Brewers before popping up the Brew Crew’s starter for third out of a 29-pitch frame. Nats still trail, 2-0.
Wander Suero was next up for the Nationals, coming on in the top of the eighth and setting the side down in order in an 18-pitch frame.
Starlin Castro walked in a one-out pinch hit appearance against Brad Boxberger in the Nats’ half of the eighth, but he was stranded two outs later.
Austin Voth gave up a solo shot to right by Omar Narváez with one down in the ninth, 3-0.
Josh Hader came on to wrap this one up and worked around a one-out single by Trea Turner for a scoreless frame.
Final Score: 3-0 Brewers
Nationals now 21-28