Birthday boy Scherzer strikes out 11, Nats pound Marlins
MIAMI (AP) — A few more starts like this, and Max Scherzer could be collecting his fourth Cy Young Award.
Scherzer allowed one unearned run and struck out 11 in eight innings on his 34th birthday, and the Washington Nationals beat the Miami Marlins 9-1 on Friday night.
"He was good," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "His cutter was really, really filthy today. He was good all day today. Kudos to him. He works his butt off and he comes out and competes every time he goes out there."
Scherzer (14-5) allowed three hits and did not walk a batter while throwing 74 of his 106 pitches for strikes. He lowered his ERA to 2.30.
"He looked like he was on both edges," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "Guys were coming back shaking their heads."
Scherzer struck out the side in both the third and the sixth on his way to his 11th double-digit strikeout game of the season — his first since striking out 10 on June 16 at Toronto.
"We knew they were going to come out aggressive and they did, and how do we work around that?" Scherzer said. "For (catcher Matt) Wieters back there, we were on the same page of what we needed to do and tonight we came up with a good game plan. When we have a good game plan, that's when Wieters and I can have a lot of success."
He reached the 200-strikeout mark for the seventh consecutive season, tying Roger Clemens and Walter Johnson for the second-longest streak in major league history. Tom Seaver had nine straight.
"It's special," Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy said. "There's really no other way to describe it. I've said it before that I think that one day I'll look back on this time watching Max. He's almost so good that you take it for granted, but I think one day 10 or 15 years from now when he's probably being enshrined in Cooperstown and I'll tell my son I got to play behind him."
Scherzer did not allow a baserunner until the fourth, when he hit Brian Anderson with a pitch, and did not allow a hit until the fifth, when Martin Prado grounded one up the middle with one out.
His counterpart, Pablo Lopez (2-2), allowed nine hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings.
"The way he competes on the mound is something that I admire," Lopez said. "I've always been a Scherzer fan. Watching him has been fun, but at the same time there is a job that needs to be done and go out and do my job with the support of my teammates."
Juan Soto homered, tripled and drove in three runs, Matt Adams had three hits and two RBIs and Bryce Harper drove in two for the Nationals, who beat the Marlins for the 16th time in 17 games, including eight straight in Miami.
A day after scoring 10 runs on 13 hits, including nine extra-base hits, the Nationals recorded at least one hit in every inning and finished with 16 hits — five going for extra bases.
"You want to just put teams away and we've been able to do that the last few games," Martinez said. "It's good to see. These guys are starting to swing the bats a lot better."
Soto's 13th home run, the third in as many games for the 19-year-old rookie, gave the Nationals a 2-0 lead in the second.
Washington added two more runs in the third on a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by Harper.
The Marlins scored in the seventh after third baseman Mark Reynolds committed two errors on one play, putting Starlin Castro on second. Reynolds could have been charged with another miscue on the next play as Martin Prado's ground ball got by him, allowing the run to score.
Harper singled through the left side for a 5-1 lead in the eighth. Adams followed by knocking in a run, Soto added a two-run triple and Daniel Murphy had an RBI single.
"We piled on runs and we blew the doors open," Scherzer said.
SOTO TIES MANTLE
Soto tied Mickey Mantle for sixth-most home runs all-time as a teenager with 13.
PRADO VS. SCHERZER
Prado went 2 for 3 against Scherzer to raise his career batting average against the three-time Cy Young Award winner to .474 (18 for 38). The 18 hits are the most by any player against Scherzer.
"He's an attacker," Prado said. "I just try to stay calm and wait for that location. I know he's going to attack. And sometimes you get lucky."
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (neck) received a shot on Thursday and could resume throwing after a three-day rest period depending on how he feels. He is expected to return to the team in Miami on Saturday after being in Los Angeles. "I actually think it's good news," Martinez said. "We know it's not his shoulder and we know exactly what it is, so now it's just getting him better, getting him right. He's one of the best in baseball and we miss him and we need him. We really do. I want him totally healthy and ready to go."
Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-7, 3.94 ERA) will start the third game of the series on Saturday night. Gonzalez is 4-2 with a 2.91 ERA in seven starts in his hometown.
Marlins: RHP Trevor Richards (3-5, 4.41) is 2-1 with a 3.16 ERA over his last six starts.