Forget all of that history that Max Scherzer has never won against Clayton Kershaw because that just changed. The Nats tagged Kershaw for 4-runs on their way to a 5-to-2 victory. Both bullpens looked shaky when they entered, but it was Sammy Solis who once again saved the Nats in relief. Brandon Kintzler and Sean Doolittle had 1-2-3 innings respectively for the hold and save making this ending a no-drama production in Tinseltown after guns were a-blazing early.
The Nationals offense got going on the first swing of the game which was a Trea Turner double plus a tag up to get to 3rd base and he immediately scored on a Bryce Harper single punched past a drawn-in infield that backfired on Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts because Harper would then score on a Ryan Zimmerman double. All of that happened in the first 8-pitches of the game for a 2-to-0 score.
“You’re not going to get [Kershaw’s] pitch count up, Zimmerman said. “He doesn’t walk a ton of people. Might as well be ready to try to hit the first pitch you can. The deeper into the at-bat you go with him, the harder it gets, especially if he can get ahead of you. It worked out good tonight. But he’s still pretty good.”
In the 5th inning, we saw some small-ball perfect executed as Trea Turner squeeze bunted Michael Taylor home for a 3-to-0 lead. The Nationals would add-on in the 6th inning, and the Dodgers answered back with a run to make the score 4-to-1 going to the 7th inning when the Nationals went to Matt Grace who put on the first two runners. Grace struck out Corey Seager in a 3-2 count to avoid disaster. Manager Dave Martinez pulled Grace in favor of Sammy Solis who got the Nationals to the 8th inning with a 4-to-2 score, and the Nationals added-on a run in the 8th inning for the final scoring of the game. The early scoring against Kershaw though was really the tale of tape in this game.
“We wanted to go in there and attack [Kershaw] early,” Martinez said. “Get the ball in the strike zone and be ready to hit it, and the boys went up there and did that.”
This game was supposed to be about the two starting pitchers who have a combined 6 Cy Young awards, but the Nationals had a plan to get to Kershaw by hunting fastballs early in the count and it worked. Scherzer baffled Dodgers hitters all night. Max had to work in and out of trouble most of the night, and unfortunately Max did not get the same strike zone as Kershaw. They say it is the little things that count, and Max just had to work harder — and he did — and bested Kershaw for sure in this pitcher’s duel. In the end, Kershaw gave up 4 earnies to Max’s 1 earned run. Kershaw’s ERA went from 1.73 to 2.45 in this game. Scherzer’s barely moved to 1.36.
“I felt like I had great stuff,” Max Scherzer said. “I was able to get some big outs early. I was able to execute some pitches in some big situations to keep the goose eggs moving. I’ve always said you don’t measure yourself against the worst — you measure yourself against the best.”
What did Scherzer’s manager think about his ace?
“[Max] was awesome,” Martinez said. “You saw two of the best pitchers go at it today. Max did his thing. He was really good.”
The Nationals improve to .500 at 10-and-10, and Stephen Strasburg will face Ryu tomorrow.