Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Johnny Cueto Shuts Out Nats In Battle Of Aces

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Jul 7, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams (9) stands on the mound as he removes starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) from the game during the fifth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Scherzer’s Bad Outing Not A Cause For Concern

When Nats fans watch a Max Scherzer start, they have come to expect dominance from their ace. Last night, it was arguably Scherzer’s worst start since putting on a Nationals’ uniform. He went 4.2 innings, gave up five runs on seven hits, struck out four, and did not walk a batter.

Right out of the gate, the Reds put up two runs in the first inning. After an error by Dan Uggla turned a Brandon Phillips single into a double, Joey Votto began his three hit night with a double off the wall in right to score Phillips. Two batters later, it was Jay Bruce who tripled off the wall in right to make the lead 2-0 Reds.

Votto would come back up in the third inning and hit a 1-1 fastball over the wall in right field for a solo home run. Just like that, the Reds were up 3-0 and three runs are usually enough when Johnny Cueto was on the mound.

While Scherzer did throw 18 first pitch strikes to 22 batters and had 59 of his 81 pitches for strikes, his location was off and he only managed to induce two groundball outs, which is tied for the fewest in any outing this season. The last time he had two groundball outs in an outing was May 27 against the Cubs, when he struck out 13 batters. Here is what Scherzer had to say after the game:

To me, there is no concern involving Max Scherzer, but the All-Star Break could not come at a better time. He is scheduled to pitch against the Orioles on Sunday, but as F.P. Santangelo pointed out on the MASN broadcast, the Nats’ ace might have felt the effects of pitching all those complete games over the last few starts. Despite a bad start last night, the confidence in Scherzer right now should still be sky high.

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