Scherzer passes Tanana on K's list in G1 loss

September 21st, 2020

threw a barrage of 119 pitches during Sunday's 2-1 loss, yet one stands out more than the rest.

The reliable right-hander was locked in for Game 1 of a seven-inning doubleheader against the Marlins at Marlins Park. He had thrown 5 2/3 innings, and Miami’s only run was unearned. With the game tied at 1 in the bottom of the sixth, Scherzer was on the verge of escaping a two-out, bases-loaded jam.

“You think you’re out of the inning, and then you’re not,” Scherzer said. “That’s just baseball. It happens.”

He delivered an 84.6 mph slider to pinch-hitter Starling Marte that yielded a grounder to third. fielded it, but first baseman was unable to cleanly handle the throw. Marte was ruled safe, Thames was charged with a fielding error and Monte Harrison scored the eventual winning run.

“[I would expect to catch that throw] every single time,” Thames said, then let out a long sigh. “Just missed it.”

Manager Dave Martinez emphasized the importance of minimizing mishaps on both sides of the field, especially in games when one mistake can impact the outcome.

“It was disappointing, it really was,” Martinez said. “Max gave us everything he had. He got the ground ball, we couldn't finish the play. That cost us the ball game. When you play those one-run games or close games like that, you've got to play clean baseball.”

That marked the end of Scherzer’s standout afternoon. He struck out six, issued two walks and allowed two unearned runs on five hits. Of his 119 pitches, 78 were strikes. Scherzer, in his 13th season, surpassed 21-year veteran Frank Tanana for 23rd on the all-time career strikeouts list. Hall of Famer Cy Young ranks 22nd with 2,803 strikeouts.

“[I felt] pretty good,” said Scherzer, who is 4-4 with a 3.67 ERA on the season. “I was executing with all the pitches. ... I was able to find a rhythm with everything.”

Part of that rhythm was being in sync with a different catcher behind the plate. Martinez tabbed to work with Scherzer instead of the usual pairing with . Gomes caught Scherzer in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series.

“I worked well with Yan for the first time this year, so that’s the real good thing,” Scherzer said. “I don’t pick catchers. I don’t play that game. When we were on the same page, executing pitches together, we did some good things tonight.”

Martinez slated Scherzer to pitch in Game 1 of the doubleheader instead of Game 2 to give the Nationals a strong chance to win and set the tone for the day. Scherzer kept the bullpen fresh for the second matchup, in which the Nats' No. 23 prospect made his first career start. was the only reliever called upon in Game 1, and he pitched one-third of an inning.

“Just like anything, you have ups and downs,” Scherzer said. “But you’ve got to just continue to go out there and grind.”