On this day, Max Scherzer controlled the game, and the Nats cruised to a 10-2 victory in venerable Fenway Park as they ended a 3-game losing streak. Scherzer notched his 173rd win of his career while keeping perfection at 108-0 when his team gets him five or more runs in support.
The Nationals looked crisp on defense and in an empty Fenway, you could hear players calling for balls in the air. There was a sense of energy among the players, and it showed in all aspects of the game.
Backed by three home runs by three different players and 3-hit games from Trea Turner and Victor Robles, the team accumulated 16-hits on the night. Turner extended his hitting streak to 13-games and it was his 16th time this season that he has reached base safely at least twice in a game this season. Eight of the Nats starters had hits in the game, and Juan Soto cranked his 9th home run of the season, and he should qualify on the leader boards by the end of play tomorrow as he is currently carrying the top OPS in the Majors at 1.263.
Ben Braymer entered the game in 8th inning in relief for his MLB debut. He is the fifth Nats player to debut this year joining Kyle Finnegan, Seth Romero, Dakota Bacus, and Wil Crowe who all enjoyed debuts this year. In addition, the Nats received Sterling Sharp from the Marlins as a gift-wrapped Rule-5 returnee per the rules after he was DFA’d. Sharp also made his MLB debut this season, but he did that as a Marlin. Because of the DFA, Sharp is not on the 40-man roster, however he is awaiting two COVID tests to join the team in Fredericksburg at the Alternate Training Site.
With this game marking Scherzer’s 97th career “double digit” strikeout game, he tied Hall-of-Famer Sandy Koufax for 5th place all-time.
“I’m flattered,” Scherzer said about tying the greatness of Koufax. “I didn’t go into tonight even thinking about that. So when you mention that, … the fact that you can even mention me in the same breath as him is an honor.”
By the way, great job by manager Dave Martinez to pull Max in a blowout game before he had to “empty the tank”. He threw “only” 92 pitches over 6.0 innings and lowered his ERA from 4.31 to 3.86. Scherzer needed this game after two consecutive starts that he could not finish what he started. The 3-time Cy winner was cruising in those starts then hit the wall around 90-pitches before surrendering his leads in the game and giving up 9-runs combined in those two starts over 11 2/3 innings to raise his ERA from 2.75 to that uncharacteristic 4.31 ERA.
This game not only ended that three game losing streak, but it also was feel good for many players who have struggled recently like Scherzer and Robles. There was also a positive from Eric Thames who entered the blowout and went 1-1 with a double that went to the deepest part of Fenway, narrowly missing a home run. While Josh Harrison has not been struggling, he has been a bench player and got the start against the lefty and went 2-5 including a deep home run over the centerfield wall.
On this Jackie Robinson Day game, the Nats did Jackie proud with what turned out to be the most black players in the starting lineup (along with the Mariners) with Harrison and Howie Kendrick who both homered and Michael A. Taylor added an infield RBI single. In fact, of the Nats thirteen position players, all are players of color except for Turner and Adam Eaton. All of the jerseys worn during the game will be auctioned off to benefit Jackie Robinson charities.