Bottom of the sixth inning, the Reds coming back. A Ryan Ludwick homer brings them to within three runs. Then, Jay Bruce walks, Scott Rolen singles, putting Bruce on second. Ryan Hanigan comes up to the plate — still no one out — and works the count full. Matt Cain is on the ropes!
Then Dusty Baker sends Jay Bruce on a steal of third for some damn reason, Hanigan either doesn’t realize it or doesn’t care, and fails to swing at Cain’s pitch, which is called a strike, and then Buster Posey fires it down to third and nails Bruce by a couple of steps. Stike-em-out-throw-em-out double play. Cain is off the hook and then after a pitching change Drew Stubbs grounds out to end the inning. We’re in the seventh now, with the Giants up 6-3.
Why Baker is sending Bruce in that situation, in that park against a pitcher who is fighting for his life is a mystery. But he gave the Giants a free out and, depending on what Hanigan was thinking, maybe two. Just a disastrous sequence of events.
But Dusty sure showed us who can manage, in every active sense of the verb “manage.”
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.