So ... yeah, Max Scherzer took the mound today, amidst a ton of speculation about where he will end up by the time the 2021 Trade Deadline arrives tomorrow afternoon, and just a week removed from an issue with his right tricep(s). Scherzer didn’t show any signs of an issue, which is good news for the Nationals and all the teams watching him today that are looking to add an ace to their rotation.
Scherzer and Phillies’ starter Zack Wheeler had themselves an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel in Citizens Bank Park, with each starter giving up one run through six in this seven-inning matchup in Game 1 of a doubleheader, but Yan Gomes hit a two-run shot out to center in the top of the seventh to put the Nationals up for good, 3-1 final.
Scherzer vs PHI: With the trade rumors swirling around the Nationals’ 37-year-old right-hander, it was somewhat surprising that he got the nod for the first game of today’s planned doubleheader in Citizens Bank Park, but he did, and before the matchup with the Nationals’ NL East rivals, manager Davey Martinez was asked how he thought it would go over with his ace if Scherzer were dealt during the game and he had to go out and try to get him to leave the mound.
“Remember who you’re talking about,” Martinez joked.
“But it’s something that I’d have to do. It might be a struggle, I might have to carry him off the field. But yeah, we’ll have to do that. I told him, just go out there and do what he does best, and that is to compete and then just don’t worry about anything else.”
Max Scherzer, Wicked 77mph Curveball. pic.twitter.com/m1bdg4nE1B— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 29, 2021
Scherzer, who missed a start last week with what the team described as mild discomfort in his right tricep, returned to the mound today, with a lot of scouts around baseball watching closely, and tossed three scoreless on 47 pitches as the Nationals jumped out to a 1-0 lead, but he left a 1-1 slider up inside for J.T. Realmuto in the first at bat of the fourth and the Philly catcher lined it out to left field for a game-tying solo home run, 1-1. Realmuto’s 11th of 2021.
awn's ied.#RingTheBell pic.twitter.com/e5PlTSkpXQ— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) July 29, 2021
It was still 1-1 in the sixth when Scherzer issued a leadoff walk to Bryce Harper, but he got a 5-4-3 DP out Andrew McCutchen to erase the free pass, and a fly to right ended a 16-pitch frame for the Nationals’ starter. 88 pitches total. Thanks for the memories if this is it, Max.
Max Scherzer’s Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 88 P, 56 S, 5/4 GO/FO.
Max Scherzer has made 189 career regular season starts as a Washington National.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 29, 2021
He's gone at least 6 IP and surrendered 1 ER or fewer in 41% of those starts.#Scherzday // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/XUPNeULkDO
Wheeler vs D.C.: In three starts against the Nationals this season before tonight, Phillies’ right-hander Zack Wheeler, 31, went (0-2) with a 3.86 ERA, four walks, 19 strikeouts, and a .279/.329/.412 line against 16 1⁄3 IP.
Overall this season, he took the mound today with a 2.37 ERA, 30 walks, 160 Ks, and a .214/.264/.302 line against in 20 starts and 132 2⁄3 IP.
Wheeler tossed an eight-pitch first, working around a walk to Juan Soto, but Josh Harrison hit a double to center to start the second, moved to third on a groundout by Luis García, and scored on a sac fly to left by Gerardo Parra, 1-0 Nationals.
Wheeler held it there through four, and after the Phillies tied it up at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, he returned to the mound with a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth.
Harrison doubled again with Josh Bell on first with two out in the sixth, setting Luis García up with an RBI opportunity, but a sharp grounder to first base was handled by Brad Miller, who beat the hustling García to the bag to keep it tied at 1-1.
Gerardo Parra doubled to center to leadoff of the top of the seventh, and Yan Gomes came up next and hit a 1-1 sinker out to center for a two-run home run and a 3-1 Nats’ lead. No. 9 for Gomes in 2021.
Zack Wheeler’s Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 100 P, 64 S, 11/3 GO/FO.
More Like Harristreak: Josh Harrison came into today’s game having reached base safely in 11 straight, with hits in 10 of 11 during that stretch, over which the 34-year-old infielder was 16 for 43 (.372 AVG) with seven doubles and two triples, four RBIs, one HBP, four walks, and a total of eight runs scored. With a leadoff double in the second, Harrison extended the on-base streak, and collected a hit in the 11th of his last 12 games.
Bullpen Action: With Brad Hand traded this afternoon, Kyle Finnegan got the ninth as the Nationals’ closer for today’s game, and retired the Phillies in order. Ballgame.
Final Score: 3-1 Nationals
Nationals now 47-54