MIAMI - Max Scherzer is doing it again.
“It” can mean several things for the Nationals ace, so we’ll have to specify in this particular instance. Through three innings, Scherzer has not yet surrendered a hit. He also has seven strikeouts, allowing only one ball to be put into play that traveled past the pitcher’s mound.
Suffice it to say, he has laid the foundation for yet another special start.
Scherzer has carved up the Miami lineup in this afternoon’s early series finale at Marlins Park. He struck out three batters in the first inning, with a walk of Christian Yelich thrown into the mix. Then he struck out three more batters in the second inning, with one pitch that grazed Derek Dietrich’s jersey the only blemish.
Six strikeouts in two innings is an awfully notable achievement. Except for the fact Scherzer has done this before. Only 15 days ago, when he had nine strikeouts in three innings at Dodger Stadium, ultimately finishing with 14 in seven innings.
The Marlins finally put a ball in play in the bottom of the third, with opposing pitcher Dan Straily, of all people, making contact. Even then, Straily could only manage a comebacker to the mound and an easy out. And when Scherzer struck out Dee Gordon after that, he had recorded the game’s first eight outs without requiring the services of all of the seven fielders stationed behind him.
Giancarlo Stanton at long last ended that run, lofting a flyball to right field for the final out of the third. Scherzer retreated to the dugout with something special brewing, though an elevated pitch count of 50 to combat.
Update: Ryan Raburn picked an opportune moment to hit his first homer with the Nationals. Raburn, a late addition to the lineup after Michael A. Taylor was scratched, lofted a ball down the left field with two outs in the top of the fifth, giving the Nats a 1-0 lead.
And the way Scherzer is going today, that just might be enough. He is now through five innings without allowing a hit, his pitch count at 72. The strikeouts aren’t coming as fast and furious anymore, but he still has eight of them. He also has a more manageable pitch count thanks to some quick outs. If you aren’t already watching, probably time to turn this one on.
Update II: Make it seven hitless innings for Scherzer, who continues to dominate. He has struck out 10 batters for the sixth straight start. The issue, though: His pitch count is now 98. Dusty Baker may be facing an awfully tricky situation here shortly.
Update III: Wow, that was an agonizing way to lose. Scherzer lost the no-hitter on a one-out, infield single in the bottom of the eighth. He and the Nats then lost the game after an Adam Lind error, a hit batter, a wild pitch and Giancarlo Stanton’s single just in front of Raburn in left field. Final score: Marlins 2, Nats 1. Agony.