This game lived up to the hype in this pitcher’s duel between former teammates Max Scherzer and Jordan Zimmermann with the Washington Nationals’ ace coming out on top with a 2-1 win in Detroit. With this triumph, Scherzer has now won 6-games in a row, and Sean Doolittle saved his 100th game in his career. The winning margin in the game was courtesy of Anthony Rendon on an opposite field home run.
Given the benefit of a low pitch count going into the latter innings, Scherzer came out for the bottom of the 8th inning after Rendon got him the lead, and Max mowed the Tigers down with three strikeouts to complete his outing with 14 punch-outs. To add to the game drama, Miguel Cabrera came off to pinch-hit off the Tiger’s bench, and Scherzer got two strikes on him with a slider then a 96 mph blazing fastball then he struck out Cabrera on a slider in the dirt.
“I saw [Cabrera] step onto the on-deck circle when I was warming up so I knew this was going to be on,” Scherzer said, “That is full adrenaline there. When you see him get in the box, that’s who you want to face. You want to face the best. That’s when you want to throw the best pitches you got, and go right after him. It’s fun to face him. I definitely have the ultimate respect for what he can do at the plate. So it’s my best versus you.”
With all of those strikeouts, Scherzer leapfrogged both Tom Glavine and Chuck Finley to move to 25th on the all-time career strikeout list. With this gem of a game, Max lowered his ERA to 2.43 on the season, and 0.95 in his last eight starts.
“He’s been unbelievable,” manager Dave Martinez said about his ace. “The work that he puts in daily as you can see pays-off every fifth day.”
With Scherzer in control most of the game, he got some timely defense from his leftfielder, Juan Soto, who was positioned perfectly to sprint in and make a diving catch on a low liner with a runner on second base. Max’s only blemish was a wall scraper home run that just cleared Adam Eaton‘s glove at the wall in rightfield. The Nationals had numerous chances to score more runs, and the only other run they scored was from a Kurt Suzuki single. With Rendon’s solo shot, the Nationals have hit home runs in 15 consecutive games.
“I run him out there every day — keeping him healthy is the key,” Martinez said about Rendon. “He’s the guy who makes our offense go and he’s been huge lately.”
Notching this win, the team heads back to D.C. for a six game homestand that will finish at the All-Star break. The team is now 42-41 and moved back above .500 as they finished this road trip with a record of 5-1.