Bill Baer

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Max Scherzer pitched in relief for the Nationals in NLDS Game 5. It didn’t go well.

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Game 5 of the NLDS just got into the sixth inning and it’s already an extremely weird baseball game. It hasn’t been pretty by any means, but the top of the fifth inning may have been the weirdest.

Max Scherzer came in the game out of the bullpen in a game his team led 4-3 after starter Gio Gonzalez could only last three innings and Matt Alberts threw one inning of relief. The thought was Scherzer would be able to pitch two or three innings and bridge the gap to the late innings. That did not happen.

Scherzer got two quick outs, getting Kris Bryant to ground out and Anthony Rizzo to fly out. Willson Contreras kept the inning alive, reaching on an infield single. Pinch-hitter Ben Zobrist then dropped a single into shallow left field. Addison Russell slipped a ground ball double down the third base line past a diving Anthony Rendon, scoring both runners to put the Cubs in front 5-4.

It didn’t stop there. Scherzer fell behind Jason Heyward 2-0, then manager Dusty Baker decided to just put him on first base with an intentional walk. After that, Scherzer struck out Javier Baez on a slider, but catcher Matt Wieters couldn’t hold onto the ball and it skipped by him. He retrieved the ball but threw wide of first base, skipping past Daniel Murphy providing backup into right field, allowing Russell to score and Heyward to move to third base. Wieters tried to argue Baez hit him in the mask on his backswing but to no avail. Pinch-hitter Tommy La Stella then reached on catcher’s interference by Wieters, ironically, which loaded the bases. Scherzer hit Jon Jay with a cutter that went in too far, forcing in another run and pushing the Cubs’ lead to 7-4. Mercifully, Bryant ended the inning by popping out to shortstop.

Scherzer’s line: one inning, four runs (two earned) on three hits, a walk, and a hit batsman with one strikeout. Yikes-a-roni.

There’s still plenty of game left, so the Nationals are by no means down for the count. They just weren’t expecting to have to dig out of a three-run hole Schezer put them in.