Max Scherzer flirted with a perfect game and ultimately settled for a no-hitter the last time he faced the Pirates on June 20. It was a different story for the Nationals ace this time around. The Pirates scored five runs off Scherzer last night as part of a 7-5 victory at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates hit three home runs off Scherzer. The first sailed into the Allegheny River off the bat of Pedro Alvarez. The second was a game-tying blast from Gregory Polanco in the fifth inning which capped an impressive 12-pitch at-bat. The third one was from Neil Walker and gave the Pirates the lead.
That lead was short-lived, as Ian Desmond tied things up in the top of the sixth with a home run of his own. However, the Pirates battled right back with a go-ahead RBI double from Brent Morel and an RBI single from Polanco. Jared Hughes, Tony Watson, and Mark Melancon followed with three scoreless innings of relief to finish off the victory.
The Pirates are six games back of the Cardinals in the National League Central, but are still sitting pretty for a Wild Card spot. The Nationals are just 3-5 since the All-Star break, but the Mets are also slumping, so they still have a three-game lead in the NL East.
Your Friday box scores and AP recaps:
Phillies 5, Cubs 3 (10 innings)
Tigers 1, Red Sox 2 (11 innings)
White Sox 6, Indians 0
Nationals 5, Pirates 7
Orioles 1, Rays 3
Dodgers 7, Mets 2
Astros 4, Royals 0
Braves 2, Cardinals 4
Yankees 1, Twins 10
Reds 5, Rockies 6
Rangers 4, Angels 2
Brewers 2, Diamondbacks 1
Blue Jays 2, Mariners 5
Marlins 1, Padres 3
Athletics 3, Giants 9
Zack Greinke is all the rage, as he’s two scoreless starts away from matching or exceeding Orel Hershiser’s major league record of 59 consecutive scoreless innings pitched. He increased his streak to 43 2/3 innings — the longest such streak since Hershiser — with eight terrific innings against Bryce Harper and the Nationals on Sunday, out-dueling Max Scherzer.
Greinke has been baseball’s best starter to date, and Harper has been baseball’s best hitter this season. So it was a veritable clash of the titans and Greinke ultimately won out as Harper went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a walk against him. Harper still wasn’t impressed by Greinke, however. Via CSN Washington’s Chase Hughes:
“I think he was okay. When you’re getting five to six inches off of the plate, you better win the game,” Harper said. “For me, I don’t think he was very tough. He’s a great pitcher, he does what he does, but when you’re getting six inches off the plate it’s pretty tough to face him.”
Harper did acknowledge Greinke’s prowess, calling him a “damn good pitcher”, but admitted that he doesn’t watch Greinke with any regularity, suggesting the media ask someone on the West coast instead.
Dodgers starter Zack Greinke extended his scoreless innings streak to 43 2/3 innings with eight shutout frames against the Nationals on Sunday. It’s the longest streak since former Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser set the major league record with 59 scoreless innings during the 1988 season. Greinke, overall, scattered three hits with a walk and 11 strikeouts. He now has a 9-2 record with a 1.30 ERA, a 0.82 WHIP, and a 117/21 K/BB ratio in 131 1/3 innings.
Hershiser’s streak spanned seven starts between August 30 and September 28. He allowed two runs to the Expos in the fifth inning before finishing out the rest of the season in scoreless fashion. He was in the midst of eight consecutive complete games and would’ve made it nine had the game in which he made his final start of the season not gone 16 innings — he went 10. Greinke’s streak thus far has spanned six starts, beginning in the first inning on June 18 against the Rangers. The pitchers’ respective stat lines during those spans of time:
- Hershiser: 7 GS, 64 IP (9 1/3 IP per start), 36 H, 2 ER, 11 BB, 43 K
- Greinke: 6 GS, 43 2/3 IP (7 1/3 IP per start), 19 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 42 K
ESPN Stats & Info notes that Greinke is only the third pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to rack up six consecutive scoreless starts in a season. Hershiser and Hideo Nomo are the others. They also point out that opposing hitters have hit to the tune of a .094 batting average against Greinke’s fastball, which is 53 points lower than any other qualified pitcher in that span of time.
According to Baseball Reference, Greinke is also the 14th pitcher since 1914 to rack up at least six starts of at least six innings each while limiting the opposition to four or fewer hits in each outing. It’s an eclectic list:
By the way, it’s going to take some work to overcome Greinke in the NL Cy Young Award race. With Sunday’s outing, Greinke expanded his ERA lead to 79 points over Max Scherzer, 1.30 to 2.09. Four other hurlers are on the periphery: A.J. Burnett (2.11), Jacob deGrom (2.14), Gerrit Cole (2.30), and Shelby Miller (2.33). For Greinke to get his ERA back to 2.00, at his current rate of about seven innings per start, he would need to allow 30 runs over his next 84 innings over 12 starts, which is the equivalent of a 3.21 ERA.
The battle of leading Cy Young Award candidates Sunday afternoon in the nation’s capital went 5-0 to the Dodgers and right-hander Zack Greinke.
Greinke allowed just three hits and one walk over eight scoreless innings against the Nationals, striking out a season-high 11 batters before getting lifted for pinch-hitter Justin Turner with a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth. Nationals ace Max Scherzer pitched well but not quite well enough, yielding a run in the top of the fourth inning on a wild pitch and seven total Dodgers hits. He did strike out eight.
Greinke has now gone 43 2/3 straight scoreless innings, the longest such streak in Major League Baseball since Orel Hershiser set the record with 59 scoreless frames in 1988. Greinke, now with a 1.30 ERA on the season, gets the light-hitting Mets next.
That opt-out clause in his contract is looking better and better with each passing week.
After play was stopped three times due to a lighting malfunction at Nationals Park, last night’s game between the Dodgers and Nationals was suspended in the top of the sixth inning and will resume this afternoon at 2:05 p.m. ET.
The outage consisted of a bank of lights along the third base line. The timing here is interesting, as this was the first game at Nationals Park since Taylor Swift performed two concerts at the stadium during the All-Star break. Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer took to Twitter to jokingly share his hunch about the cause of the outage:
Scherzer obviously just wants Swift to write a song about him on her next record. It’s worth a shot.
Meanwhile, Nationals slugger Bryce Harper has his own theory: