Washington Nationals starter Jeremy Hellickson was not as sharp as a tack today — he walked four guys — but he had no-hitter going against the Chicago Cubs through the first five and two-thirds innings of this afternoon’s contest. And then he was lifted for a reliever.
It’s not hard to blame Nats manager Dave Martinez for taking him out. He managed two outs in the inning but he also walked the bases loaded, with the last hitter he faced — Ben Zobrist — walking on four straight pitches. Hellickson either lost the strike zone or lost confidence in his stuff. Either way, he was at 89 pitches, so the thing was not gonna happen anyway.
When he was lifted, the Nats were up 2-0. Then Sammy Solis came in to face Jason Heyward who promptly knocked in two with a solid single for the Cubs’ first hit of the game. It’s now tied up at two.
Life comes at you fast.
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.