With a broken nose and an unbroken spirit, Max Scherzer gutted his way through 7.0 innings of shutout baseball with the fractured beak and dark swelling around his blue eye that he sustained — yesterday — on his way to secure this win and move into legendary status. For mere mortals, they would have been down-and-out and placed on the 10-day IL, but Scherzer took a page from the gridiron and most notably quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who was the last player who broke his nose and played through the game. While Scherzer downplayed the injury, it just adds to the book on this future Hall-of-Famer. To sweep a doubleheader from the Phillies under these conditions is just incredible. With this win, the Nationals moved back to 3.0 games under .500 and into sole possession of 3rd place in the NL East.
“In that particular moment of the game, he’s the guy you want out there,” manager Dave Martinez said of Scherzer in a 1-0 game with a runner on second base and no outs. “When he came in yesterday, he said he was good to start today.”
With the 7.0 inning shutout, Scherzer lowered his ERA to 2.62 which ranks him 7th in the Majors and 3rd in the National League. Scherzer’s 10 strikeouts tonight gave him 2,595 in his career which is just a dozen from tying Tom Glavine for 26th on the all-time list. Scherzer’s average fastball velocity was 96.2 mph tonight and he used the reachback fastball a few times tonight where he went to 98 mph. Scherzer hit fastball readings he has not achieved in 7-years. You have to believe the adrenaline kept him going and a reason why he was able to disregard the pain. Scherzer was able to pitch around trouble a couple of times including in the 7th inning when he gave up a lead-off walk then he struckout the final three batters of the inning to finish his night on 117 pitches.
“We’re a good team, and we’re rolling,” Scherzer said. “It just felt like I had a good fastball today. Staying within my mechanics, and really driving through the ball. I felt good.”
All of the offense in theory that the Nationals and Scherzer needed was Brian Dozier‘s solo home run in the second inning when Dozier became the first Nats’ player since Adam Dunn in 2010 to homer in both ends of a doubleheader.
“I was kind of joking with [Max]: ‘Oh, you’re throwing today?’” Dozier said. “He kind of gave me a little — ‘Go to hell’ look. ‘Of course I’m throwing today. What do you mean?’”
In the 8th inning, the rookie Victor Robles added on the insurance run via his 10th home run of the season. The minimal one run lead left Scherzer, and the first man out of the bullpen little room for error. That extra run courtesy of Robles was much appreciated by his teammates who could not push across a run after Dozier’s blast.
The bullpen just needed clean innings, and they got it from both Wander Suero and Sean Doolittle for a perfect 8th and 9th innings. Suero had to protect that 1-0 game, and he had to face Jean Segura, Bryce Harper, and Scott Kingery. For Doolittle, he had a 2-0 lead to protect and he set-down Rhys Hoskins, Jay Bruce and Cesar Hernandez in order for his 15th save of the season.
After the game, Martinez disclosed that Erick Fedde would start tomorrow’s game against the Phillies, and Stephen Strasburg would get the Friday game against the Braves. From there it looks like Anibal Sanchez for Saturday and Joe Ross for Sunday unless Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo have some other tricks up their sleeves. The Nationals called up Austin Voth as the 26th man for the doubleheader, and he was not used and will be sent back most likely tomorrow to the minors.