Scherzer vs. Kershaw doesn't disappoint

April 12th, 2021

It was a headlining matchup that did not disappoint.

versus Clayton Kershaw -- two of only 10 pitchers in Major League history to win three Cy Young Awards -- facing off in Sunday's series finale between the Nationals and Dodgers in Los Angeles.

“He’s one of the best competitors in the game, and you love competing against him,” Scherzer said after the Nats’ 3-0 loss on Sunday afternoon. "You’re facing the reigning champs, and you want to go out there and beat them. That’s the beauty of baseball and playing at this level -- you constantly get to face the best players in the game and more importantly, in the world.”

Over six innings, Scherzer allowed one run off three hits, issued one walk and fanned five. The run came off a Zach McKinstry RBI double to the center field wall that was lost in the sun by a chasing Victor Robles.

“Unfortunately, this was one pitch where the ball was able to get down for a double and the run was scored,” Scherzer said. “A lot of times that doesn’t necessarily beat you, but today it did.”

Scherzer was pleased with his cutter, changeup and sliders against right-handers. He also felt like he was in a better rhythm with veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who joined the Nats' roster recently and has contributed on both sides of the game since being added. They worked together for the first time on Opening Day, and they have been able to get more in sync since then. 

“He threw the ball really well,” manager Dave Martinez said of Scherzer's outing. “He hit his spots.” 

Kershaw countered with six scoreless innings in which he allowed five hits and recorded six strikeouts against the Nationals. Along with Zack Greinke (88), Scherzer (89) and Kershaw (92) have the most starts since 2013 in which they gave up one run or fewer in six-plus innings.

Martinez described the Scherzer-Kershaw matchup as “two veteran pitchers at their best.” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called it a “pitcher’s duel.” Kershaw enjoyed it as much as Scherzer did. 

“I have a ton of respect for him and everything he’s done in this game,” Kershaw said. “You try not to attack it any differently. You always try to put up zeros on the board. But after we got that early run there, you try and make it stand up as best you can, knowing that Max probably isn’t going to give up many himself. [We're] fortunate today that it worked out.”

Scherzer was tabbed to face off against two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom before the Nats’ season-opening series against the Mets was postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests. On Sunday, he got that chance versus another one of the best to take the mound. 

“These are the games you remember,” Scherzer said. “These are the matchups you remember and really how you judge yourself, how you perform in these situations.”