Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: One Max Scherzer Wild Pitch Makes A Difference

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Jul 19, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) reacts after striking out in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Nationals Park. Los Angeles Dodgers defeated Washington Nationals 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

When the pitching matchups were first announced for this series between the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers, everyone circled the matchup between Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer that took place yesterday at Nats Park. It was a battle between two pitchers that are in the running for the NL Cy Young Award.

While Scherzer put together another good start for the Nats, it was Greinke, who was just a little better as he is on an historic streak right now. By throwing eight scoreless innings yesterday, not only did the Dodgers’ right-hander get his ERA down to 1.30, but his scoreless inning streak is now at 43.2 innings, which is the longest streak since Orel Hershiser’s streak was 59 innings back in 1988.

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That being said, in all three matchups in this series, the Nationals had trouble pushing runs across against any of the Dodgers starters. Against Mike Bolsinger, Clayton Kershaw, and Greinke, the Nats scored one run in 20 innings. That run was on a Bryce Harper fielder’s choice in the bottom of the third inning on Friday. It culminated on Sunday when the Nats could not get one batter to reach second base until Harper got there on an error by Jimmy Rollins in the bottom of the ninth.

When you have an offense that is struggling to put together big innings, one small mistake by a great starter can make a difference. For the Nats, that was Max Scherzer’s wild pitch in the third inning that made the difference as the Dodgers took a 1-0 lead and never looked back. After winning that first game, which was played over two days, the Nationals now find themselves two games ahead of the Mets in the NL East with a crucial three game series against New York starting tonight at Nats Park.

Before Matt Harvey takes on Gio Gonzalez tonight, here are my takeaways from yesterday’s 5-0 loss:

Next: Scherzer Gets No Help From Offense