Scherzer closes out abbreviated spring (Scherzer to start Friday)


Score: Nats 4, Red Sox 4

Recap: Playing at Max Bishop Stadium in front of several hundred U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen, the Nationals and Red Sox wrapped up spring training in a unique setting. Max Scherzer had to work against Boston's grind-it-out lineup, but the right-hander got better as his afternoon progressed and finished with two runs allowed in five innings, throwing 91 pitches. The Nats got two quick runs in the bottom of the first off left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who walked three straight batters (including Jayson Werth with the bases loaded). Adam Eaton's sacrifice fly brought home the second run. Bryce Harper's double off the right field wall scored Trea Turner with the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth. Wilmer Difo's RBI grounder in the sixth produced an insurance run. New closer Blake Treinen got what should've been a game-ending double play, but second baseman Bryan Mejia dropped the throw, allowing the Red Sox to tie the game at 4-4. Adam Lind singled, Jhonatan Solano walked and Michael A. Taylor singled to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth. But Jose Lobaton flied out to right field to end the game in a tie.

Need to know: Gio Gonzalez, who hadn't pitched in six days and isn't scheduled to make his first start of the season til Friday, got some work out of the bullpen and pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Dusty Baker then tried to get as many relievers as he could one last tune-up before the season. Joe Blanton, Shawn Kelley and Enny Romero combined to record four outs before the ninth.

On deck: Opening day, Monday vs. Marlins at Nationals Park, 1:05 p.m. on MASN


ANNAPOLIS - Max Scherzer's spring may not have progressed in an ideal manner, and it may not have wrapped up today in an efficient manner, but the Nationals ace will be good to start the season on time.

All things considered, Scherzer and the Nats couldn't have asked for much more than that.

Max-Scherzer-throwing-Navy-front-sidebar.jpgHis typical spring preparation delayed by a stress fracture in his right ring finger, Scherzer had to sprint to the finish line, making only three exhibition starts against major league opponents. But he got there, wrapping up his spring training with five innings and 91 pitches against the Red Sox this afternoon at Max Bishop Stadium at the U.S. Naval Academy.

No, it wasn't ideal, but Scherzer was content with the end result.

"Fortunately I've had enough years where I kind of know what it takes to get it done and ready for the season," he said. "Having a limited amount of starts here, I was just trying to get a feel for all my pitches. And that's what so important to me. To make sure that you face a team like today where you've got to execute everything."

Scherzer faced a legitimate test today in a Red Sox lineup that included Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, among others. That group made the right-hander work, battling through long at-bats, fouling off pitches and prolonging what might otherwise have been a quick day at the park.

"It was nice to be able to face a lineup of their caliber," he said. "They grind out ABs, and those are some professional batters up and down the lineup. That's as good a test as you're going to face in in spring training to get ready for the regular season."

Scherzer allowed two runs in the top of the second, giving up a double to Sandoval that cleared Bryce Harper's reach in deep right field, then a run-scoring single to Christian Vázquez.

He still had to work to get through the next three innings but did so without allowing any more runs. He finished the day with four strikeouts and one walk, throwing 65 of his 91 pitches for strikes.

Next up for Scherzer: Thursday's start against the Marlins in the third game of the regular season.

Update: The Nationals announced that Scherzer's regular season debut has been pushed back to the fourth game of the season on Friday in Philadelphia. Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez will start the opening series againt the Marlins.

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