PHOENIX -- It is not the stuff.Well, it is the stuff, of course, but it is not only the stuff. The ferocity with which Max Scherzer attacks a lineup separates him from most, teammates say, and it was evidenced again during his Major League-leading seventh victory in a dominant 3-1
PHOENIX -- It is not the stuff.
Well, it is the stuff, of course, but it is not only the stuff. The ferocity with which Max Scherzer attacks a lineup separates him from most, teammates say, and it was evidenced again during his Major League-leading seventh victory in a dominant 3-1 win over Arizona on Friday night at Chase Field.
He also had the go-ahead RBI with a two-out double to right-center for a 2-1 lead in the fourth. He singled in his third at-bat in the seventh.
Scherzer is 6-0 in eight starts against the D-backs, who brought him to the Majors 10 years ago.
"He is just in attack mode all the time," closer Sean Doolittle said of the ace. "There is no setting hitters up for the second time or third time through the lineup. He is just in attack mode right out of the gate, and I think it sends a message to the other team that he's looking to be in control from the first pitch of the game."
Scherzer struck out 11 and retired the final 15 he faced after David Peralta's homer in the third inning, while going seven innings, but it was the first six outs that demonstrated Doolittle's point.
After Trea Turner hit his seventh career leadoff homer in the first inning -- he was back in leadoff, with Bryce Harper hitting second -- the D-backs put runners on second and third with no outs in the first on two singles and Scherzer's throwing error.
Scherzer got out of it with a strikeout, a popout and another strikeout.
After Ketel Marte tripled with one out in the second, Scherzer got out of that inning with a pair of strikeouts.
"Maybe, sometimes, pitchers in that situation try to manage that inning," said Doolittle, who pitched the ninth for his eighth save. "Max kind of just put his foot down. You almost see him take it to another gear in that situation. Those two outs in the first, you could tell he was in for a big night."
Scherzer had his sixth double-digit strikeout game of the season and leads the Majors with 91 K's. It was about the mix. He got at least two strikeouts on four different pitches: a fastball that touched 97 mph, a cutter, a slider and a changeup. He got Paul Goldschmidt on a changeup for the first out of the first inning. Eight of his first nine outs were strikeouts.
"He was really good, normal Max," Goldschmidt said. "He was using all of his pitches and comes right at guys. We had a couple chances early, myself in the first inning. I wasn't able to get the job done and he started cruising there in the middle."
Scherzer threw 99 pitches, 72 strikes, but manager Dave Martinez was fine with that. Scherzer threw 111 pitches against Philadelphia on Sunday, and with an upcoming day off next week he will be pitching on five days' rest in his next outing.
"It was just mix, never staying in the same spot, east-west," Scherzer said. "It's just a matter of the schedule. You know when you need to push the gas, and you know when to come off the gas."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Backing up the ace: Corner outfielders Harper and Andrew Stevenson made strong defensive plays to keep the D-backs from getting anything started in the fourth and fifth innings.
Harper went deep into the right-field corner near the Washington bullpen to take extra bases away from Chris Owings leading off the fourth. Harper also cut off a ball headed for the corner to save a run -- and the game -- in the 10th inning of the 2-1, 11-inning victory Thursday.
Stevenson, who has started the last two games in left field while Matt Adams plays first in Ryan Zimmerman's absence, came in to make a diving catch on Nick Ahmed's sinking liner to open the fifth.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Ahmed's liner to left that Stevenson turned into the first out of the fifth inning had a 93 percent chance of being a hit, according to Statcast™.
HE SAID IT
"I love RBIs, man. I might not be the best hitter. … I kind of suck … but I'll go out there and compete with you." -- Scherzer after his RBI double in the fourth inning
"I love that rule, though. It kind of saves you when you are on the mound." -- Scherzer, who was deprived of a second RBI when his ground-rule double bounced over the fence to prevent a runner from scoring from first
Stephen Strasburg probably does not have the fondest of memories in his return to Chase Field. He pitched two innings in his start here last July 17 before being removed with forearm tightness that did not require surgery. Although he missed his next four turns through the rotation, he finished 15-4 with a 2.52 ERA and was third in the NL Cy Young award voting. He will face Troy Scribner and the D-backs at 4:05 p.m. ET Saturday.
Jack Magruder is a contributor to MLB.com based in Phoenix.