In the top of the 7th inning, the game was tied 2-to-2 and Max Scherzer had a 97 pitch count. Scherzer was not his sharpest as he struggled early while being victimized by his defenders who didn’t make plays. Scherzer could have hung up his cleats at that point, but came out for the 7th inning and walked the lead-off man then walked the second batter of the inning. The rookie Ozzie Albies was told to sacrifice bunt the two runners over and he tried but Scherzer wasn’t getting the balls over the plate and he walked the bases loaded.
Keep in mind that Sammy Solis had been ready in the bullpen. Manager Dusty Baker still didn’t pull Scherzer who was at 115 pitches and he left him in to face Swanson who singled home 2 runs. They then intentionally walked Freddie Freeman to load the bases and Scherzer was pulled by Baker to a scattering of boos. Dusty Baker brought in Brandon Kintzler to face Matt Kemp. The first pitch Kemp saw was a hanging slider that he deposited in the leftfield seats for a grand slam. That was the end of the scoring to make it 8-to-2.
The Nationals only had 7 hits in the game of which 3 were from Trea Turner who was the star of the game and really the only bright spot. The Nationals were also gifted some other hits via poor defense by the Braves. Turner also stole his 40th base in the game which is one stolen base from tying the Nationals record that Alfonso Soriano set in 2006 when he stole 41 bases during his 40/40/40 season.
Dusty Baker has sat through thousands of media sessions and would be prepared for the obvious questions about Scherzer’s pitch count.
“It played out where the game plan was to stretch [Max Scherzer] out,” Dusty Baker said. “You have to stick with the game plan. We were thinking long-run versus short-run. I know it looked ugly to you and the fans and everybody. But if you have a game plan you have to stick with it as long as you can.”
At the end of the 6th inning, Max Scherzer’s pitch count was at 97 pitches. Since when isn’t 97 pitches considered stretching a pitcher out? How many pitches did Scherzer throw in his 2 starts in the NLDS last year? Easy answer: 91 and 99 pitches. By the way, Scherzer just pitched six days ago and threw 104 pitches. What were you stretching him out to? Scherzer used a new term called “fatiguing” where he tried to say this was planned. Not smart as you can’t control stress on the mound, and if you need to, or want to throw extra pitches and want to stretch-out, send Max into the indoor mound and have him throw more in a controlled setting.
Tom Boswell tweeted this out at the time: