Bill Baer

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 26: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park on April 26, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Max Scherzer ties nine-inning record with 20 strikeouts against the Tigers


Update (9:45 PM EDT): Scherzer served up a solo home run to J.D. Martinez on his first pitch of the ninth inning to make it a 3-2 ballgame. He bounced back to strike out Cabrera for number 19. Victor Martinez singled to put the tying run on base. (Martinez, by the way, is the only hitter who didn’t strike out at least once against Scherzer on Wednesday night.) Scherzer then fanned Justin Upton on a slider for number 20. James McCann grounded out to third base to end the game in a 3-2 win for the Nationals. Scherzer ends up tying the nine-inning record with 20 strikeouts.

Scherzer threw 119 pitches, 96 of them for strikes. That’s almost an 81 percent strike rate.


Earlier, we noted that Nationals starter Max Scherzer got nine consecutive outs on strikeouts in Wednesday’s start against the Tigers. He didn’t let up as the night went on. Scherzer will take the hill in the top of the ninth inning with 18 strikeouts to his name.

We usually do these live reports of games for pitchers flirting with no-hitters, but we figure what Scherzer has done is arguably even more special. There have only been 30 games in which a pitcher has struck out 18 or more batters in a game. Tom Cheney struck out 21 in a 16-inning game for the Washington Senators against the Orioles in 1962. Three pitchers are tied for the single-game nine-inning strikeout record with 20: Kerry Wood, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens (who did it twice).

Scherzer, who has already set the Nationals’ franchise record with 18 strikeouts, will face J.D. Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, and Victor Martinez to kick off the ninth inning.

The Nationals gave Scherzer three runs of support. Daniel Murphy has two RBI singles and an RBI double, and Danny Espinosa smacked a solo homer in the seventh. The Tigers’ lone run came on a Jose Iglesias solo home run.

Video: Marwin Gonzalez laces a walk-off two-run homer in the 16th inning

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Marwin Gonzalez #9 of the Houston Astros looks skyward after hitting a home run against the Seattle Mariners in the fifth inning at Safeco Field on September 29, 2015 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
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Indians first baseman Carlos Santana tripled in a run in the top of the ninth inning, tying Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Astros at three apiece. The two teams would combine for nearly seven scoreless innings after that.

Astros first baseman mercifully ended the game in the bottom of the 16th, lacing a walk-off two-run home run off of Cody Anderson for his third homer of the year.

Indians/Astros was one of three of Wednesday afternoon’s games to go extra innings. The Mariners beat the Rays 6-5 in 11 innings. The Giants beat the Blue Jays 5-4 in 13.

The 16 innings between the Indians and Astros ties the Nationals-Twins meeting on April 24 for the longest game this season.

Max Scherzer got nine consecutive outs on strikeouts

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 11: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Nationals Park on May 11, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

A lot of the focus on Wednesday night’s series finale between the Tigers and Nationals was centered on the Tigers’ Jordan Zimmermann, who is facing his former team for the first time. The opposing starter, Max Scherzer, was also facing his former team but it’s been a year and a half since he pitched for the Tigers so it wasn’t as special.

Scherzer decided to make it special. After getting Ian Kinsler to pop up to start the ballgame, the right-hander would get his next nine outs on strikeouts. J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera, two of the game’s best hitters, both fanned twice. In fact, Scherzer got both strikeouts on Cabrera on three pitches each.

Scherzer hasn’t been perfect, though. He surrendered a solo home run, to Jose Iglesias of all people, in the third inning.

Entering Wednesday evening’s action, Scherzer owned an uncharacteristic 4.60 ERA with a 46/15 K/BB ratio in 43 innings.

Bryce Harper brought Harper’s Heroes to Nationals Park

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10:  Bryce Harper #34 of the Washington Nationals gets ready to bat in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Nationals Park on May 10, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

In the midst of the controversy and ensuring one-game suspension following Monday night’s outburst directed at an umpire, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper invited Harper’s Heroes to Nationals Park for Wednesday night’s series finale against the Tigers.

Harper partnered with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to create Harper’s Heroes, which allows children who are battling cancer or beat cancer to attend a Nationals game, watch batting practice, and meet with Harper. He posted this picture this evening:

(Update: Instagram embeds aren’t showing up for most people. Here’s the link to the Instagram post directly.)

Earlier this week, Harper reportedly gave a homeless woman a jar full of money. It’s safe to say that the good has outweighed the bad.

Was Jake Peavy trying to quick pitch Edwin Encarnacion on Tuesday?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 09:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays rounds the bases after he hit a two-run home run in the third inning off of Jake Peavy #22 of the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on May 09, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Eno Sarris of FanGraphs has an interesting piece up today. He spoke to Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, who was adamant that the Giants’ starter on Tuesday, Jake Peavy, was trying to quick pitch Edwin Encarnacion, among others.

Donaldson said to Sarris, “Pitchers are not trying to deceive runners any more with their balks, they are trying to deceive hitters. With guys like myself, guys like Jose Bautista, guys that have leg kicks, movement in their swing, more than any other area, all that timing, this, that, hold, quick pitch, they’re all trying to do something to mess our timing up.”

Donaldson then pointed out, which Sarris captured in a .gif, Bautista talking to first base umpire Tony Randazzo about Peavy not coming set before pitching to Encarnacion. Peavy noticed this, so he came set on his next pitch and promptly gave up a homer to left field.

Sarris cites rule 5.07(a)(2), which Peavy seems to violate. He also makes a good point that it shouldn’t be up to the hitters and runners to enforce this rule; umpires should be aware of it and make an effort to keep Peavy and other pitchers in line.

While the Blue Jays wound up winning 4-0, Donaldson said, “It’s harder for me as a hitter to know when to start.” He added, “Part of the game is deceiving the batter, but it should be in the rule book.”

As usual, nice reporting and research by Sarris. Check out the FanGraphs article for the visual supplement.