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Max Scherzer strikes out 15 as Reds fall to Nationals 4-1, lose series

The Washington ace breezed through the Reds lineup in, unfortunately, predictable fashion.

Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Max Scherzer entered Sunday’s contest having pitched to a 2.21 ERA in his career against the Cincinnati Reds, his second best ERA against any MLB team. On top of that, the .493 OPS he’s allowed while pitching in GABP is his best mark in any MLB park aside from 1 lone game pitched in the now defunct Shea Stadium.

In fact, he’d yet to allow a run in GABP in his previous pair of starts there.

That changed on Sunday, albeit by the thinnest of margins, as Scherzer looked every bit the part of a 3-time Cy Young Award winner in leading the last place Washington Nationals to a series victory over these Reds. He struck out 15 Reds on the day while allowing a lone run on just a pair of hits, all that against just a lone walk and a single HBP in his 120 pitch outing.

Losing series after series to last-place teams is a pretty rock-solid way to end up with a last-place record. That’s what makes leaving runner after runner on-base yesterday such a frustration in hindsight.

Key Plays

  • The Nationals got to Sonny Gray early in this one, plating a run in the Top of the 1st while also forcing him to throw 30+ pitches for his first 3 outs. Trea Turner led off with a double to the wall in RF, and he later scored on the RBI single into LF by Anthony Rendon. Reds led, 1-0.
  • Kurt Suzuki burned Gray by smoking a hanging breaking ball in a 2-out, 0-2 count in the Top of the 4th, smacking it into LF for a double that scored a runner from 2B after a series of softly hit grounders. Reds trailed, 2-0.
  • The Reds finally did some Redsing against Scherzer in the Bottom of the 4th, and it came courtesy of the two hitters on this roster with the most history of success against the Nationals ace. Joey Votto dumped a double down the LF line to open the frame, and he scored a batter later when Derek Dietrich ripped a double into the RF corner. Reds trailed, 2-1.
  • The bullpen, though, couldn’t keep pace with Scherzer. David Hernandez allowed a pair of runners to reach in the Top of the 8th prior to being replaced by Raisel Iglesias, who then allowed a walk and a 2-RBI single to Brain Dozier to put the Reds in an insurmountable defecit. Reds lost, 4-1.

Tony Graphaninoooooo not FanGraphs nooooo

Other Notes

  • Had the Reds not had an off-day tomorrow, or had they not been up against the dominant Scherzer, we might have seen Sonny Gray’s day be a bit longer than just 88 pitches. Instead, David Bell opted to pull him when the pitcher’s spot was up in the Bottom of the 5th in favor of a pinch hitter, ending Gray’s line thusly: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K.
  • Prior to the start of this one, the Reds announced that RHP Jose Lopez had cleared waivers and was outrighted back to AAA Louisville. Lopez, of course, ended up in the San Francisco Giants organization over the winter after having previously been booted from the Reds 40-man roster, only to return to the club earlier this spring. The former 6th round pick from Seton Hall has struggled big time in AAA this year, however, so it was obviously a great time to seek both an open 40-man roster spot and keep him in the organization.
  • The 2019 MLB Draft begins tomorrow evening, so get your popcorn ready. The Reds continue to be linked with selecting TCU LHP Nick Lodolo with the #7 overall pick, but ya never know how things will shake out that many picks into the shenanigans.
  • In other news, Jay Bruce was just traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Philadelphia Phillies, meaning the Reds will face their former stalwart RF this upcoming weekend.
  • There’s an off-day Monday, but the Reds will open a series against their division rival St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday. First pitch in the opener is set for 8:15 PM ET, and will feature Luis Castillo on the mound for Cincinnati. He’ll be opposed by St. Louis starter Genesis Cabrera.
  • Tunes.