Early on, Max Scherzer had to escape the 1st and 2nd innings with runners on 3rd base and less than 2 outs — which he did with Houdini Acts. Within all that, Max had 8 strikeouts in the first 3 innings with only one out in play which was an infield pop-up. Scherzer gave up a solo home run on a good pitch and that was his only blemish in his 7 innings lowering his ERA to 1.69 and finished the night on 99 pitches.
Max was completely dominant on this night that came exactly 10-years to the week that he made his debut as a starter on this very same field by the team that drafted in him in the first round. This time he was not pitching the top of the first inning — the 3-time Cy Young winner pitched the bottom of the innings as the visiting team does. Scherzer was never a star for the Diamondbacks. In fact, he had a losing record for the D’Backs at 9-and-15 in two seasons with few highlights.
Most Diamondbacks’ fans would not even know Scherzer once wore their uniform. He was a winter meetings piece of a blockbuster 3-team trade on December 8, 2009 that sent him to the Tigers and Curtis Granderson to the New York Yankees and Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks. All in all, a total of 7 players were traded.
This game of course was more then all about Max Scherzer who was a triple and home run short of hitting for the cycle. Scherzer’s teammates were mostly great on defense when a ball was put in play, and Trea Turner led-off the game with a solo home run grabbing the quick lead. The game winning RBI came from Scherzer himself with a deep ground-rule double to make the score 2-to-1. Anthony Rendon added a mammoth home run for the final scoring at 3-to-1.
The defense was crisp tonight with a Web Gem from Andrew Stevenson and two fine plays by Bryce Harper in the other outfield corner. In Dave Martinez‘s post-game presser, he made sure to compliment Bryce Harper on his defense which has now been very good for two straight game — and we mention that because for too many games Bryce has been tentative going after balls. Tonight, Bryce Harper charged in full sprints after balls and nothing got past him. He made a great running catch in the corner and Scherzer responded with fist pumps, again, in appreciation for his teammates.
From the bullpen, Brandon Kintzler turned a quick 1-2-3 inning in the eighth for a hold, and Sean Doolittle earned his 8th save to close out the game for Max Scherzer’s 7th win. Scherzer is no longer on a 30-win pace for the season but he is on a 28-win pace!
“[Max Scherzer] gives us a chance to win in every outing,” Dave Martinez said. “We wanted to keep him around 100 pitches. He has had a heavy workload in his last few starts.”
Counting this win, combined with losses by the Braves and Phillies, the Nationals have tightened the race in the NL East where the team from Washington, D.C. is 1 game out of 2nd place and 1 1/2 games out of first place as we have reached the quarter pole in the season.