Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Scherzer K's 15th after refusing to leave game

Nats ace allows one run over eight innings: 'I knew I was strong'
June 2, 2019

CINCINNATI -- With Max Scherzer sitting on 117 pitches and Joey Votto stepping to the plate in the eighth inning on Sunday, Nationals manager Dave Martinez visited the mound to see what his right-hander had left in the tank. “I wanted to hear it from him,” Martinez said. “We exchanged

CINCINNATI -- With Max Scherzer sitting on 117 pitches and Joey Votto stepping to the plate in the eighth inning on Sunday, Nationals manager Dave Martinez visited the mound to see what his right-hander had left in the tank.

“I wanted to hear it from him,” Martinez said. “We exchanged some non-professional words. I’d rather not say what they were, but I loved it. What can I say about Max, he’s the best.”

Box score

Scherzer struck out Votto on three pitches, the last being a 96-mph fastball to cap off another dominant outing in Great American Ball Park, with three hits and a run allowed over eight innings and a season-high 15 strikeouts in a 4-1 victory over the Reds.

Scherzer’s 120 pitches on Sunday were a season high.

“I knew I was strong,” Scherzer said. “With the schedule, I had an off-day the previous time and was coming up on another off-day. My arm felt great. I just wanted the ball in that situation.”

The 15 K’s are his most since May 16, 2018, when he also fanned 15 against the Phillies. It was the 22nd time in Scherzer’s career that he struck out 10 or more and allowed one earned run.

“I mean, he’s pretty good,” said Reds rookie center fielder Nick Senzel. “I was happy that I didn’t swing at any stuff in the dirt. My at-bats weren’t terrible, but he elevates that heater. He’s got some ride to it. I’ll see him again, probably in D.C., so just a learning experience.”

Scherzer reached double-digits in strikeouts against the Reds for the fifth straight start. It was the 86th double-digit strikeout game of his career.

In three starts at Great American Ball Park, Scherzer has allowed one run, 11 hits and fanned 35 in 20 innings.

“He's such a competitor, and he's got the stuff to go with it,” said Reds manager David Bell. “I’ve never been around him, but he seems like a guy that is determined from pitch one to win the game, as simple as that. He's going to do everything he can to get through the game if he can. As good a stuff as anyone in the game.”

Washington has won seven of nine and three straight series.

“I just think we’re playing better baseball,” Scherzer said. “We’re not making dumb mistakes, that has been costing us ballgames. If we can play team baseball, the results will take care of themselves.”

The Nationals won only twice in Scherzer’s first 12 starts this season, but the offense came through for their ace on Sunday.

Trea Turner doubled leading off the game against Reds starter Sonny Gray and later scored on Anthony Rendon’s single to put the Nats ahead 1-0. The second run scored on Kurt Suzuki’s RBI double in the fourth.

Scherzer did not allow a hit until Votto’s double leading off the fourth. Derek Dietrich followed with a double to drive home the first run ever allowed by Scherzer in two career starts at Great American Ball Park.

His fastball was especially live on Sunday. Scherzer threw a 98-mph fastball to strike out Jose Iglesias to end the fourth, his fastest pitch since 2017, according to Statcast data.

Scherzer fanned five straight batters on two occasions during Sunday’s game and retired 10 straight batters going into the eighth.

“I made a little tweak in my changeup and thought I really was able to get that dialed in,” said Scherzer. “I was able to get the changeup down in the zone or below the zone. With their lefties, I was able to throw a good curveball today.”

The Nationals had produced three runs or less in 10 of Scherzer’s first 12 starts, but on Sunday they broke open a one-run game on Brian Dozier’s two-run single in the eighth.

“I’ve been telling Dozier, the RBIs are on the right side of the field,” Scherzer said. “That was great for him. Also gave everybody a little more breathing room.”