Few games will have as much drama as we saw tonight as Max Scherzer bested the Phillies top pitcher Zack Wheeler to get the Washington Nationals a big win. There is now a 3-way tie in the NL East for second place between the Nats, Phillies and Braves, and each team is 4.0 games behind the NL East leading Mets. The beauty is the Mets and Braves are playing each other again tomorrow then the Mets and Phillies play four games this weekend. If the Nats continue to win, they will make some big moves up the NL East ladder.
On this day, Scherzer held the Phillies to 1 run over 5.0 innings and they only got 2 hits off of him. The Nats’ ace recorded 8 strikeouts and is just 4 Ks from 2,900 in his storied career and 104 punch-outs from the coveted 3,000 K club.
As you know, umpires are inspecting pitchers for foreign substances between innings, and Phillies manager Joe Girardi requested the umpires check Scherzer in the middle of an inning on the mound. Words were exchanged between Girardi and Nats’ manager Dave Martinez. It continued after the inning when Girardi ran out of his dugout and was pointing and yelling at Scherzer. The umpires threw Girardi out of the game.
“I’d have to be an absolute fool to actually use something tonight when everybody’s antenna is so far high to look for anything,” Scherzer said.
With a 3-1 score, Martinez went to his bullpen to complete the final four innings of the game, and Austin Voth pitched two scoreless innings, but Tanner Rainey struggled in the 8th inning and gave up a solo home run to make it a 3-2 game, and with 2 outs, closer Brad Hand entered the game.
The bottom of the 9th inning was a high leverage heart thumping inning that had one out and bases loaded when a pop-up went to shallow leftfield and Josh Harrison and Trea Turner collided with Harrison miraculously hanging onto the ball and no tag-up by the Phillies. The ball travelled only 201 feet and somehow Harrison who subbed in for Kyle Schwarber sprinted in and made the play of the game. Turner really had his bell rung and he stayed in the game, but didn’t look right. Hand got the final batter to roll over a grounder that Turner had to field going to his right and he threw off-balance, a perfect strike, to first base for the final out of the game and a high octane save. The Nats’ closer had to throw 34 max effort pitches in this one.
The Phillies only had a paid crowd of 19,000+ in a mostly empty Citizens Bank Park that included plenty of Nats fans who made the drive to see Scherzer win the 181st of his Hall of Fame career.
“The bottom line is, we went 1-0 today,” Martinez said. “The boys came out and played. They kept their composure. We finished the game and it was a good win for us.”
These Nats are on an 8-2 run and the hottest team in baseball despite all of their injuries. Just another one-run win in this game for Davey’s team who are now 11-8 in those games.