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Scherzer victorious in first return to old home

MLB.com

PHOENIX -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer looked around at the environment and saw it with different eyes. One of them is brown and the other is blue anyway, a phenomena called heterochromia, which makes him even more special than the magic he performs with his right arm.

Scherzer was selected by the D-backs with the 11th pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft and made his first 37 big league starts for the D-backs, 19 of them at Chase Field.

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PHOENIX -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer looked around at the environment and saw it with different eyes. One of them is brown and the other is blue anyway, a phenomena called heterochromia, which makes him even more special than the magic he performs with his right arm.

Scherzer was selected by the D-backs with the 11th pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft and made his first 37 big league starts for the D-backs, 19 of them at Chase Field.

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But he hadn't pitched here since Sept. 25, 2009, or about three months before the D-backs traded him to the Tigers in a three-way deal that also included the Yankees. Until Monday night, when he worked that magic on the D-backs.

"Ah, it was interesting," Scherzer said after enjoying the early cushion of a 10-0 lead in the blowout 11-1 win. "Now I'm on the other side, in the other dugout. It's good. With this groups of guys and how they compete and how they play, it's fun to come in here and get a W."

Scherzer spun seven innings of five-hit, one-run ball, with a walk and six strikeouts, and because of the 10-run bulge after two innings, never really had to break a sweat.

The one blemish to his homecoming was Jordan Pacheco's homer with one out in the sixth. Scherzer's now 3-3 with a 1.99 ERA and the Nationals are on a roll, having won 11 of their last 13 games.

Scherzer, who joined Washington this past offseason, has faced the D-backs twice and beaten them both times since the Dec. 9, 2009, trade to Detroit, where he won 82 games, an American League Cy Young Award and turned into an elite pitcher. The other win over Arizona was a 3-1 win at Comerica Park on June 20, 2010.

Scherzer was a younger and different pitcher the last time he started at Chase, when he was 24 years old. 

He's 30 now and one of the toughest competitors in the game. Just to prove it, he took an A.J. Pollock liner off his left hamstring in the first inning and still jogged over to throw him out before stomping around behind the mound trying to shake it off. Washington trainers came out to see if he was all right, and Scherzer sent them away.

"It hurt, but I wasn't injured, because it hit the meat of the muscle," he said. "As long as I could keep that stretched out and loose, I could still continue to pitch."

That's what Scherzer does. The D-backs didn't quite know what to do with him as a kid -- start him or use him out of the bullpen? They always thought he might develop shoulder problems because of his motion. Now in his eighth season, he's never had an arm injury.

The difference between then and now?

"I just think he knows himself now. He has multiple pitches to get guys out," said Nationals manager Matt Williams, a limited D-backs partner when Scherzer was a developing player. "Before, there was some concern from the organization what his health would be like if we put him in the bullpen. But he's maintained mechanics, he's maintained strength. He just goes out there and competes."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

Washington Nationals, Max Scherzer