Nobody is considered perfect, but today Washington Nationals ace pitcher Max Scherzer was close and virtually unhittable.
Scherzer threw an absolute gem this afternoon striking out a career high and Nationals’ record 16 batters and rebounding from his last two outings that resulted in losses to earn his seventh win of the year. The previous record for strikeouts by a Nationals pitcher was Stephen Strasburg during his MLB debut where he fanned an astonishing 14 hitters in 2010. The franchise record is 18 whiffs set by Bill Gullickson in 1980 with the Montrel Expos. The Expos moved to Washington D.C. at the start of the 2005 season.
Scherzer was perfect through six innings, but Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez led off in the top of seventh inning with a broken bat bloop single just beyond the reach of second baseman Anthony Rendon to shallow right field. Gomez’s blooper spoiled Scherzer’s attempt at what only 23 other pitchers in MLB history have done. Gomez agreed that Scherzer had pitched a hell of a game after he was asked by reporters about his bloop single being the only hit of the game for the Brew Crew.
Carlos Gomez on his bloop single: “I don’t enjoy it. I would enjoy it if I hit a real base hit. Because he dealt. He pitched unbelievable.”
— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) June 14, 2015
He finished the rest of the game only to allow two baserunners the whole game and record his second career complete game. His only other complete game was a three-hit shutout just this past year on June 12, 2014 against the Chicago White Sox as a member of the Detroit Tigers.
The right hander had pinpoint command of all of his pitches and was able to work on both sides of the plate. This allowed him to get ahead on hitters and stay ahead to eventually make them a statistic. Scherzer had great deception in his delivery that also allowed him to use the slider so that Milwaukee hitters couldn’t pick up the rotation on the baseball. The Brewers hardly touched him, but when they did it was lazy fly balls to the outfield or routine ground balls to the infield.
Scherzer had a similar game to Cleveland Indians’ ace Corey Kluber, who struck out 18 St. Louis Cardinals in 8 innings in what was called one of the most dominating 8 inning performances in MLB history. Bill James, a baseball statistician who created what is known as sabermetrics, “the search for objective knowledge about baseball,” created something called a “Game Score” for pitchers. A Game Score of 50 is considered average, and 90 is rarely achieved. Kluber’s gem earned him a 98, which is the highest score in over 100 years for an 8-inning performance.
The Nationals are getting their money’s worth of Scherzer so far this season, who signed a seven-year $210 million dollar contract during the offseason. He improved his ERA to 1.93, which is good enough for fourth best in the league and second best in the NL behind the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Gerrit Cole, who currently posts a 1.71 ERA. Scherzer is also currently tied for the MLB strikeout lead with Tampa Bay RHP Chris Archer with 113 K’s. Here are 16 of them!
The Nationals open up an interleague matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays in a home-and-home series starting with two games in Tampa and then two games back in D.C.. Left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez (4-3) takes the mound for the Nationals on Monday and faces Erasmo Ramirez (5-2) who posts a 4.96 ERA. Gonzalez won his only career start against the Rays in 2012 at Nationals Park, but has struggled lately with his command.