Scherzer K's 8 in loss: 'You have to go forward'

May 2nd, 2019

WASHINGTON -- As soon as he saw the ball lifted into the sky, Max Scherzer slapped his hand into his glove and let out a satisfied yell as he began walking back to the dugout. Knowing the end of his outing was near, Scherzer had emptied the tank with runners at the corners in the seventh inning to work his way out of a jam. He fired a 97 mph fastball past Paul Goldschmidt for a strikeout and then induced a popout from Paul DeJong to second base on the 110th pitch of the outing to end the threat.

The extra effort completed a masterful outing from Scherzer, one that certainly deserved better than the Nationals’ performance around him in Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Cardinals.

“You watch him, and he was on,” Nats manager Dave Martinez said of Scherzer. “He understands that at that particular moment, that’s his game. I could’ve went out there and talked to him about [taking him out of the game], but I probably wouldn’t have gotten a nice answer.”

Overall, the Nats have now lost three straight games, five of their past six games and nine in their past 12 games as this recent losing stretch continues. They need a win Thursday evening at Nationals Park to avoid a four-game sweep by the Cardinals.

And coming up short in Scherzer starts has become a common theme this season for Washington, which has now dropped six of Scherzer’s first seven starts this year, scoring a total of just 12 runs in those six losses. For a team looking to overcome a rough first month of the season, they cannot afford to routinely squander games with their ace on the mound.

“It’s rough for all of us,” third baseman Howie Kendrick said. “Because he’s giving us a chance to win. It’s not like we are losing by a ton of runs.”

Scherzer did his part to lift the Nationals out of this funk. He struck out eight in seven innings and although he gave up eight hits and walked a pair, he was able to navigate his way out of jams with ease.

But the Cardinals scored three runs in the first inning thanks to some shaky defense behind Scherzer. Victor Robles misjudged a fly ball from Marcell Ozuna into a run-scoring double. And then Carter Kieboom misplayed a grounder from Jose Martinez with the infield in into a two-run single. Neither player was charged with an error, but the expected batting averages according to Statcast on those plays were .100 and .140, respectively, for Ozuna and Martinez.

“Yeah but we all make mistakes,” Scherzer said. “I make mistakes. I’m not here to worry about other people’s mistakes. If you do, that’s a losing mentality.”

Scherzer shut the Cardinals down for the rest of the game, but the Nationals’ offense never capitalized on their chances at the plate. Scherzer’s overall statline this season might not be as dominant as Nationals fans have come to expect, his ERA inflated to 4.08 in part because of a poor outing against Miami on April 20.

But he also owns an elite strikeout-to-walk ratio at 62-to-7 and has given up three runs or less in five of his seven starts. Yet, the Nationals continue wasting gems from their ace, digging themselves even further into this hole they have created for themselves to start the season.

“You have to go forward,” Scherzer said. “You have to continue to do your job, and my job is to go out there and pitch as well as I can deep in ballgames and do everything I can do to be successful. Tonight, I thought I gave the team a chance to win. That’s all I can ask for, for myself.”