Right-hander Max Scherzer started the 89th All-Star Game and finished two innings. He allowed an Aaron Judge solo shot, one of only two hits in his outing. Scherzer struck out four batters and walked one.
The AL defeated the NL 8-6 in 10 innings thanks to All-Star Game MVP Alex Bregman’s tiebreaking solo homer in the 10th. The 14 runs were the most combined runs scored in an All-Star game since 2002.
The walk Scherzer allowed came in the top of the first. After striking out Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve, Scherzer walked Mike Trout on a full count in the eighth pitch of the at-bat.
“The stadium was going nuts. I was feeding off of that, I really wanted to strike him out,” Scherzer said. “But he just kept grinding me. I was trying to execute pitches, kept fouling off and unfortunately, I walked him. But I love facing him. He’s a great hitter but you always got to believe when you are on the mound you are better than him.”
In the second inning, Scherzer surrendered the first homer of the game. The solo shot by Judge cleared the left-center field wall to give the AL a 1-0 lead. Scherzer felt good about the pitch, but learned he must adjust in facing a batter that is five or six inches taller than the average hitter.
“I threw a fastball up and I hit my spot,” Scherzer said. “I hit the glove. He’s 6-foot-7. You got to throw it higher. I was like, ‘Man, I thought I really threw that high.’ You got to go higher than higher high against him because he’s 6-foot-7. It’s incredible. He put a great swing on it. I tip my cap, move on, learn my lesson and maybe if I face him I realize now pitching against tall guys you got to go high.”
The contest featured an All-Star Game record 10 homers and the teams combined for 25 total. Scherzer was asked if that was a signal that baseball has changed for the worse, without more ground balls to get the infielders involved. Scherzer said those wild totals for this game were because it was an exhibition featuring the best pitchers and the best hitters on the same field.
“Well, you are going to see that in an All-Star game when everybody’s throwing max effort,” Scherzer said. “You are just not going to string hits together. As a whole, pitchers have too many pitches and we are throwing too hard to have to ... The hitters are in a really tough bind in that situation. So, yeah, in an All-Star Game, that is going to happen. In the regular season, that’s not how it happens. It’s a different animal in the regular season. I don’t think baseball needs to change.”
In his sixth All-Star Game and 11th season overall, Scherzer said hitters have changed over the years, so he has had to adjust to get them out.
“The game has evolved,” he said. “In the evolution, the way hitters are (altering) their swings, there’s a way to beat guys,” Scherzer said. “The game is always evolving and you have to evolve as a pitcher if you want to keep up with these guys. The young guys that come in this game are really, really good.”
Finally, Scherzer reflected on a very thrilling two days for Washington, D.C., and his Nationals teammates, especially Bryce Harper and Sean Doolittle, his fellow All-Stars. He said the organization, city and Nationals Park came off well in the eyes of his All-Star teammates.
“It was awesome. What an atmosphere,” Scherzer said. “I thought we were a great host team. All the other players in here loved our facility and the treatment that we received. D.C. did it right.”