Luis García started last night’s game 4 for 8 with a home run off one-time teammate Max Scherzer in their respective careers, and he finished the game 6 for 11 against the Hall-of-Fame-bound pitcher, doubling the first time up against the New York Mets’ starter, before hitting one out in his third trip to the plate, in a 2 for 3 showing against the three-time Cy Young award-winner.
Unfortunately for Washington’s Nationals, García’s home run off Scherzer accounted for the club’s only run in a 5-1 loss on the road in Citi Field.
Scherzer held Nats’ hitters to a run on six hits and two walks, striking out seven of 28 hitters he faced in a seven-inning, 103-pitch outing.
“We hit the ball pretty hard, but Max is Max, right?” manager Davey Martinez said after the second loss in two games in Flushing, Queens, NY this weekend.
to see ??? or not to see ???— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 29, 2023
you later pic.twitter.com/u0c2L2cbqr
“[Scherzer] gave up a home run, but other than that — we got bases loaded on him, and we couldn’t get nothing going. But he bears down, that’s who he is, he bears down when guys are on base like that, but the at-bats got better at the end, and we just got to come back out tomorrow, and like I said before, not wait.
“Just come out and try to score first and give us a little breathing room and let our pitchers do their work.”
Martinez’s club loaded the bases with two out in the second but Alex Call grounded out to end the threat, and Scherzer retired 11 of the next 14 batters he faced before García’s sixth home run of the year got the visiting team on the board.
Why has García, who also singled off lefty Brooks Raley in the ninth, had success in head-to-head matchups against Scherzer?
“To be honest, I can’t even tell you [why] I feel like maybe I go in there with greater focus, because it is Max Scherzer, and he’s a very good pitcher,” García said after the game, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“I think one of his best pitches, if not his best pitch, is his fastball. And I’m a good fastball hitter, so maybe that’s it.”
“He looks for the ball up against Max,” Martinez told reporters. “The biggest thing is to get the ball in the zone with Max, right? I loved his at-bat too at the end against the lefty. He slowed his legs down, which we’ve been working really hard for him doing, and he hit the ball really well today.”
The Nationals’ hitters as a group, didn’t give starter MacKenzie Gore much in the way of run support, but he matched Scherzer through four scoreless, working through some traffic, but the left-hander gave up back-to-back walks to start the fifth, and two outs later, a three-run home run by Pete Alonso, who hit a hanging 2-1 slider 453 ft to center for the only runs the Mets would need on the night.
“Well, a slider down the middle is a big no-no for him, and that’s what he got,” Gore said as he broke down his outing for reporters. “And when he gets those, that’s what he does.”
“Just wanted to go down and in, but we didn’t get it there — or I didn’t,” he added.
“Two bad walks, and then a hanging slider, it’s 3-0,” his manager said in summing up Gore’s 21st start this season.
“But the walks,” Martinez said. “I always talk about the leadoff walk, and then he walked the next guy and you put yourself in a position to face a pretty good hitter.”
Though he’d held the Mets off the board to that point, he wasn’t particularly sharp in his own assessment.
“The walks were bad. It’s just frustrating, because we had done a better job of that lately,” Gore said. “At least getting ahead of guys.
“And then today, even the innings before just [weren’t] great. So, just frustrating.”
Gore’s manager cut him a little more slack.
“It’s the walks. When he’s throwing strikes and he’s getting ahead, he’s really good. Tonight, he was really good until he walked those two guys [in the fifth],” Martinez said.
BACK PAGE - CANDELARIO’S OKAY - AND WANTS TO PLAY, THANKS:
Jeimer Candelario, who’s having a bounce-back season in D.C., after he signed a 1-year/$5M free agent deal with the Nationals this winter, is considered the club’s most-likely-to-be dealt candidate at the 2023 Trade Deadline, as GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in Washington’s front office try to find a team out there willing to give up some prospect capital in return for a 29-year-old who’d hit 29 doubles and 16 home runs in 96 games before last night.
As the baseball world watches and starts making offers to the Nationals, however, the third baseman has been banged up this month, with a variety of nicks, none of which have kept him out of the lineup long (or convinced the Nationals to preserve him in bubble wrap until they can find the right deal, assuming they do trade Candelario).
“He wants to play. He doesn’t like sitting,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters before last night’s game in New York (NL). “But he’s been getting hit and been getting beat up a little.
“But you know what, he gives us good at-bats day in and day out, so it’s really hard to sit him.”
There was another scare late in last night’s 5-1 loss, when Candelario tried to stretch a one-out single, on a ground ball off of shortstop Francisco Lindor’s glove, which bounced into center field, into a double. Candelario beat the throw to second, but lost his balance in the process and swung his arm around as he tried to steady himself and came into contact with umpire Vic Carrapazza, which knocked him off the base so he could be tagged out.
Candelario reached for his left shoulder, and the Nationals’ skipper and trainer came out to look at him, but in the end it wasn’t anything serious.
“He hit his shoulder, but he said he felt fine, so hopefully he’s good,” Martinez explained.
“I mean, he came out, he said he felt good, he took some swings in-between, he said he felt fine.”
“He was safe until he ran into the umpire,” the manager added.
“He saw the ball, he was clearly safe until ... he swung around, he got his arm caught on Vic, the umpire.”
“Everything’s good, everything’s good,” Candelario assured reporters when he spoke in the clubhouse after the game. “I just tried to come back, but the umpire was just right there.
“But it’s part of the game. It was scary, but I’m good.”
Candelario said the injury scares, HBPs, everything, it’s just part of the game.
“It’s baseball, you know how it is. This is not easy. You got to grind, you got to put your body in the right way to be there every single day, and for me I just want to be in the lineup every single day, no matter what happens.”