Right-hander Max Scherzer was the first to admit a couple of his pitches did not do what he had hoped they would in Saturday’s 18-4 series-clinching win over the Marlins. He allowed three home runs in a start for the first time this season.
The Marlins’ Starlin Castro and J.T. Realmuto slammed back-to-back solo shots off Scherzer in the fourth inning.
In the fifth, JT Riddle laced a triple. Miguel Rojas followed with a slicing blooper into right field to score Riddle. Yadiel Rivera also hit a home run in the seventh.
“I made some mistakes,” Scherzer said. “I didn’t execute a curveball against Castro and that was a home run. I didn’t execute the slider against Realmuto, left it in the zone, not out of the zone. He’s too good of a hitter to do that to. That’s another home run. Just made some mistakes with some off-speed stuff and left it in the zone and these are too good of guys to make those mistakes.”
It was finally a big night for the Nationals offense during a Scherzer start. In his previous five starts, the Nats had combined to score four runs.
“You know what? If there ever was a time to make some mistakes, it’s when you get 18 runs and the offense is blasting everybody. So I still got a smile on my face,” Scherzer said.
Scherzer also saved the Nats bullpen, which had been taxed the last week, starting off with Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to the Red Sox when starter Erick Fedde left in the second inning.
“Bullpen was a little thin tonight, so just needed to go out there and go as deep as possible,” Scherzer said. “Tonight was very important for me to go seven innings and, hey, I understood what was going on. I want the ball.”
He lasted seven innings, scattering four runs on seven hits with two walks and three strikeouts. Scherzer tossed 109 pitches, 78 for strikes.
The three strikeouts were his lowest total this season. The last time he struck out less in a game was September 2, 2017, at Milwaukee when he had two.
He had not allowed three homers in a start since July 21, 2017 at Arizona. The last time Scherzer had surrendered as many home runs as strikeouts recorded was two homers and two strikeouts on June 6, 2012, when pitching for the Tigers in a 9-6 loss to the Indians.
But the bottom line for the Nats and their manager is that Scherzer once again found a way to lead the Nats to a win.
“It was awesome. Like I said, when you have a Max Scherzer on the mound, he gives you a chance to win every fifth day,” said Davey Martinez said. “For us to score that many runs after not scoring his past five starts, it was good. Good for all of us.”
And it was the leader Scherzer who had led the players-only meeting following a fifth straight loss Wednesday. After Saturday’s dismantling of the last-place Marlins, Scherzer was asked if he saw a difference in this team since his talk with his teammates.
“Have you?” Scherzer replied. “I don’t know what else I’m going to say.”