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.