Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Max Scherzer And Nats Squeak Out Close One Against Phillies
The Washington Nationals opened a three game series against the Philadelphia Phillies Friday night at Nationals Park. The Nats won 2-1 in a game that featured just about everything, except Bryce Harper and Matt Williams getting ejected.
Quality Baseball From Both Sides
This was one of those games that, for a true fan of the game, was a joy to watch. There were no errors committed by either team, both starters pitched well, no reliever came out and got blown up and there was a home run. There was situational hitting. There was a save in a one run game. Not to mention, the home plate umpire, Alfonso Marquez, wasn’t blowing calls behind the plate and called a great game.
In short, this was a game that was worth the investment of your time. Of course, if you are a Nationals fan, it was all the better because the Nats won this close one. What could be better than a game where Bryce Harper hit a home run in his first at bat to tie the game 1-1? A game in which Max Scherzer pitched eight innings and gave up one run on four hits?
A game where the Phillies starter, Sean O’Sullivan, nearly matched Scherzer by only giving up two runs in seven innings?
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Max Scherzer was, once again, terrific. He played a great all around game. Not only did he pitch a great game, but he was responsible for scoring the winning run. Scherzer led off the bottom of the sixth inning with the game tied 1-1. He looked determined to get on base. He came up swinging, fouled off some pitches, and finally singled to right on the fifth pitch of the at-bat. After Denard Span flew out, Ian Desmond hit a ball that almost left the yard, but bounced off the wall in right center. Scherzer took off on the crack of the bat and scored on Desmond’s long double. He never slowed down around the bases and got the lead for the Nats.
Drew Storen had to get out of trouble in the ninth, but struck out Odubel Herrera in the 9th with two men on to close it out. Storen has 13 saves, one win and one blown save in a game the Nats won in extra innings against the Cardinals back on April 21. His ERA currently sits at 0.98.
Scherzer And Harper Took Advantage Of Matchups
There are some hitters that just have a knack for getting to a certain pitcher. There are some batters that a certain pitcher can always get out. This game featured several of those matchups. Scherzer had to face two hitters in that category in this game: one that owns him so far this year and one that he has owned for years.
Odubel Herrera has hit better against Scherzer this year than any other hitter. When he came to bat in the top of the second inning, he was 4-for-8 in appearances against Scherzer this year. His four hits are the most from any opponent against Scherzer in 2015. . Ryan Howard led off the inning with a double, so Scherzer was trying not to give up a hit to Herrera. It didn’t work. Herrera doubled to center, which drove in Howard. Then, in the fifth, Herrera drew a leadoff walk, which was Scherzer’s only walk of the contest. The Nats pitcher got the upper hand against the Phillies center fielder in the seventh when he was able to get him to ground out to second. Now, Herrera is 5-for-10 against Max this year
On the other hand, Scherzer also faced left fielder Grady Sizemore, whom Max seems to own. Sizemore started the game 1-for-17 career against Scherzer. He ended the night 1-for-20against Max. Three at-bats for Sizemore and the results were two strikeouts and a flyout.
As for Bryce Harper, he has owned Sean O’Sullivan as far as home runs are concerned. He has nine at-bats against O’Sullivan this year and has hit three home runs. Harper has to hope he keeps facing O’Sullivan during Phillies games this year. The rest of the Nats have trouble connecting against him, but Harper has had his number, at least so far.