For the Nationals, they had Cy Max on the mound tonight in a game where the Nationals did not put together a lot of offense. Max Scherzer went 8.0 full innings of shutout baseball to win this game and take back the team lead in ERA at 1.92. The Nationals swept this series and have now won 6-games in a row and increased their road win streak to 10-games in a row. The Nationals also moved 10-games over .500 at 32-and-22.
“Max had a great fastball tonight,” manager Dave Martinez said. “The slider was very very sharp.”
The Nationals offense came from a Bryce Harper home run which was his 18th on the season tying him for the Major League lead, and for the Nationals other run in the game, Juan Soto doinked an RBI single that he served over the 3rd baseman in a 2-strike count. The Nationals managed 7-hits in the game, and luckily they got Max Scherzer a lead that he never relinquished.
There was high drama in the 9th inning as closer Sean Doolittle struggled to hit his spots and lead-off man Craig Gentry laced a single in a 3-2 count. The next batter, Adam Jones, was sawed off and hit a pop-up behind 1st base high in the air. Wilmer Difo was in a shift and got there in time but overran the ball and it dropped in behind him and ruled a single. That brought the winning run to the plate with no outs as Manny Machado dug in. For some inexplicable reason, Craig Gentry tried to steal 3rd base and Sean Doolittle stepped off the rubber and picked him off for the first out in the inning.
That pick-off gave Doolittle renewed energy, and he got Machado to flyout and Schoop to pop-up for the last out. It was Doolittle’s 13th save of the season. With the pick-off, the words of Charlie Slowes back on June 23rd of 2007 had to pop into your head as to what Gentry was doing like when Nook Logan made an inexcusable TOOTBLAN, you know the words — What is he doing? What was he thinking? What was he watching? Where was he going? Sean Doolittle says thank you very much. For Max Scherzer, his record notched up to an MLB best 9-and-1.
“I felt I had really good pitches tonight,” Max Scherzer said. “I was inline with my arm action. I was executing fastballs. It was a point of emphasis.”
With this win tonight, the Washington Nationals team record from its inception in 2005 to today is now 1,079 wins with an equal amount of losses. It has taken years of winning to erase those dreadful lean early years of 2006-2010. The Nationals finished their inaugural 2005 season at an 81-81 record.
The Nationals fly tonight to Atlanta for a four-game series to complete this road trip. The Nats Delta plane 8895 is due to takeoff at midnight local time and arrive in Atlanta near 1:30AM local time.
Updated: With the Braves loss tonight, the Washington Nationals take over sole possession of 1st place!