May 22, 2015, 3:27 PM EDT
For all the attention he’s been getting for what he does on the days he doesn’t pitch, Max Scherzer maybe hasn’t been getting enough attention for what does on those fifth days. Because he’s been fantastic, better than most even figured he would be when the Nationals signed him over the winter.
Scherzer, who takes the mound tonight against the Phillies, has a 1.75 ERA, 66 strikeouts and only eight walks in eight starts. He’s also sixth in the NL with a 2.6 WAR. That’s sixth among all players, not only pitchers.
Tonight, Scherzer faces a Phillies lineup and pitcher (Sean O’Sullivan) he’s already beaten twice this season. He’ll have the usual lineup behind him, but with Clint Robinson getting the start in left field over Michael Taylor.
Updates to come…
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183
Weather: Sunny, 73 degrees, Wind 13 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
SS Ian Desmond
3B Yunel Escobar
RF Bryce Harper
1B Ryan Zimmerman
C Wilson Ramos
LF Clint Robinson
2B Danny Espinosa
RHP Max Scherzer
LF Ben Revere
SS Freddy Galvis
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
3B Maikel Franco
RF Grady Sizemore
CF Odubel Herrera
C Carlos Ruiz
RHP Sean O’Sullivan
HP Alfonso Marquez (cc)
1B Dan Bellino
2B Ben May
3B Bruce Dreckman
7:06 p.m. — And we’re underway, but not until we had a post-anthem stand-off between Aaron Barrett and Aaron Harang. The two stayed out there even as Max Scherzer delivered his first pitch, with Harang finally scampering away as the pitch was thrown and Barrett took credit for the win.
7:18 p.m. — Unfazed by the fact there were two extra players on the field for the game’s first pitch, Scherzer managed to retire the side in the top of the first on 11 pitches, striking out Freddy Galvis on a curveball. Sean O’Sullivan was just as effective in the bottom of the first, retiring the side and striking out both Ian Desmond and Yunel Escobar.
7:45 p.m. — Hey, you’ll never guess what just happened: Bryce Harper homered. Off Sean O’Sullivan. It was an opposite-field shot to lead off the bottom of the second. It was his 16th of the season, his third in six at-bats vs. O’Sullivan this year. And it’s his 11th homer in his last 45 at-bats. To put that into perspective: If you took all of Harper’s non-homers during this stretch and turned them into outs, he’d still be hitting .244. That’s kind of insane. It’s 1-1 now after two.
7:55 p.m. — Really nice catch by Denard Span in the top of the third to rob Freddy Galvis of what might’ve been an RBI double to deep left-center. Span has had to cover a lot of ground tonight. The Phillies are making pretty solid contact against Scherzer, but he has emerged having allowed only the one early run so far. Still 1-1 after three.
8:10 p.m. — Another hard-hit ball from Harper in the bottom of the fourth, but the Phillies had him played perfectly, with Galvis scooping up the sharp grounder up the middle to start an inning-ending double play and keeping this a 1-1 game.
8:29 p.m. — It’s still a 1-1 game after five innings, with the Nats unable to get anything else going against O’Sullivan. Aside from Harper’s homer, they’ve produced two singles, nothing else. Good thing Scherzer is in a groove. He’s tossed five innings of 1-run ball on 73 pitches.
8:53 p.m. — When in need of some run support, just take matters into your own hands. That’s what Scherzer did in the bottom of the sixth. He led off the inning with a single to right, then huffed and puffed his way 270 feet around the bases to score on Desmond’s double off the center-field fence. The inning also saw the Phillies intentionally walk Harper with two outs and a man on third, a strategy that worked when Zimmerman grounded out to third. But the Nats now hold a 2-1 lead after six.
9:09 p.m. — The Nats might’ve had a chance at something in the bottom of the seventh, but Michael Taylor (inserted as a pinch-runner for Clint Robinson) was caught leaning too far off first base and was picked off. So Scherzer is back to the mound for the eighth, sitting on 97 pitches, with the Nats still up 2-1.
9:29 p.m. — We go to the ninth in what remains a 2-1 game. Scherzer completed his eight stellar innings on 110 pitches. Now it’s Drew Storen to face Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Maikal Franco in the ninth.
9:41 p.m. — And that’ll do it. Storen wraps up his 13th save in 14 tries (stranding a pair of baserunners) and the Nats win their sixth straight, this one 2-1. They’ve now won an incredible 18 of their last 22 games.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
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