Sorry if I’m dwelling here, but you’d dwell too if this was your team.
Of all of the stuff that happened in last night’s Braves-Phillies game, perhaps the most inexplicable was Fredi Gonzalez’s decision to pitch to Hunter Pence with two out and a runner on third in the 13th inning. Behind Pence — who has been hot and is dangerous — was Michael Martinez, who has been neither. In a game in which it seemed pretty clear that one run would make all the difference it seemed strange to assume that Fredi Gonzalez was afraid to load the bases. Indeed, creating the force out everywhere made a lot of sense even if you ignored the clear falloff from Pence to Martinez.
Or maybe it was a matchup thing? Let’s have righty Scott Linebrink face righty Hunter Pence rather than the switch-hitting Martinez? I wouldn’t agree with such an assessment — the quality difference between Pence and Martinez more than accounts for the platoon matchup in my mind — but I suppose that’s a reason.
So what did Fredi Gonzalez have to say about it last night? According to Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: nothing. When the question was asked, Gonzalez ended the interview.
No word if he asked why he turned Craig Kimbrel’s arm into potato salad all year, but I suppose he has his reasons for that too.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.
Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.
Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.
Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.