Scherzer returns to form as Washington Nationals take series from Marlins


After slugging their way past the Miami Marlins in a 7-2 victory last night, the Washington Nationals’ offense was nowhere near as potent in a pitching duel between starters Max Scherzer and Dan Haren Thursday afternoon. Fortunately for the Nationals, Scherzer didn’t need a whole lot of run support as he turned in one of his best starts of the season to lead the Nationals to a series win over the Marlins.

When Scherzer took the mound for today’s early game against the Marlins, the right-hander was coming off arguably his worst start of the season. During his last outing against the Pirates on July 24, Scherzer gave up five runs on seven hits and saw his ERA climb to a season-high (yes, season-high)  2.33. He struck out eight batters and walked just one, but the right-hander was inefficient all day long and only lasted five innings.

Today, however, Scherzer bounced back from his last start and returned to the dominant form we’ve come to expect from the Nationals’ prized offseason acquisition.

After struggling to keep his pitch count down his last time out, Scherzer was efficient today. The right-hander lasted seven innings and allowed no runs on just three hits while striking out six batters. Scherzer walked three hitters for the first time this season, but overall it was a great effort from the right-hander.

Unfortunately for the Nationals, Scherzer’s counterpart was almost as dominant for the Marlins. Haren, whom Nationals fans know well from his time in Washington, dominated the Nationals’ lineup through six innings. He allowed just one run on four hits while striking out four batters and walking two.

The Nationals’ lone run against Haren came in the top of the second inning. Leading off the inning, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman connected on two-strike, 82 MPH cutter from Haren and crushed it over the wall in left field for a solo home run—his first since coming off the disabled list—to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead.

More from Max Scherzer

While that was all the damage the offense could do against the Marlins, that was all the Nationals needed to secure the win. As it turns out, the Nationals have quite a strong one-two bunch in the back end of the bullpen. Scherzer lasted seven innings, but with two of the best relievers in the game pitching the eighth and ninth innings for the Nationals, seven innings is all the team needed.

For the first time since Jonathan Papelbon joined the Nationals from the Phillies earlier this week, Washington’s new closer finally got his chance to shine. And with Drew Storen pitching the eighth inning, we finally got to see the one-two punch in action. Fortunately for Storen, Papelbon and the Nationals, everyone lived up to expectations.

Storen was dominant as usual, striking out two batters in a spectacular 1-2-3 eighth inning for the second day in a row. Papelbon was just as good in the ninth, retiring the Marlins in order to secure the 1-0 win for the Nationals with his 18th save of the season.

For the Nationals, a series that started with a disheartening loss ended with two very encouraging wins and a series victory—which is exactly what the team needed with a big series against the second place New York Mets coming up.

Next Game: The Nationals kick off a huge series against the Mets in New York tomorrow night. Gio Gonzalez gets the start for the Nationals as Matt Harvey takes the mound for the Mets at 7:10 p.m. ET.

More from District on Deck