Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks missed most of September with a strained left oblique, but returned on Tuesday as the club activated him from the 10-day disabled list. He made his presence felt immediately, taking a grand slam away from Rays catcher Wilson Ramos in the top of the first inning.
Starter Jordan Montgomery found himself in hot water to start the game, as he gave up back-to-back singles to Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza, Jr., then walked Evan Longoria to load the bases with no outs. After striking out Logan Morrison, Montgomery threw an 85 MPH first-pitch change-up that Ramos crushed to right-center field. Fortunately for Montgomery, Hicks tracked the ball, leaped, and brought the ball back from beyond the fence to save an additional three runs. Kiermaier scored on what was ultimately a sacrifice fly.
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.