Scherzer pitches a gem in NLCS Game 2

Ben Krimmel
October 12, 2019 - 6:15 pm
Max Scherzer pitches a gem in NLCS Game 2

Scott Kane/Getty Images

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Was it the sun? Was it the shadows? Was it just... Max Max doing Mad Max things?

The answer is quite clearly the latter, as the Washington Nationals got a lights-out performance from ace Max Scherzer in Game 2 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals to help take a 2-0 series lead.

Of course the intense shadows created by the late afternoon Missouri sunshine helped, too, but Scherzer was the overwhelming force Saturday. (The only player who seemed totally immune from the sun's effects was Nationals center fielder Michael A. Taylor who smacked a home run and a single in his first two at bats.)

Despite falling behind batters at times in the early goings, Scherzer had nine strikeouts through five innings and hadn't allowed a hit. The lone Cardinals baserunner in the early goings came from a four pitch walk of Kolten Wong in the bottom of the first inning.

Spookily, the start of the 2019 NLCS has mirrored the start of the 2013 ALCS when Aníbal Sánchez and Scherzer each held the Boston Red Sox hitless through 5 innings. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the duo became the only pitchers in postseason history to hold the same team hitless through 5 in consecutive games. And six years later: they did it again.

Paul Goldschmidt grabbed the Cards' first hit to start the top of the seventh inning on an 0-2 pitch that found the grass in left field in front of Juan Soto. The Nationals outfielder might have had a chance to catch the ball, but with the Nats up only 1-0, safety first was the best philosophy.

Scherzer left the game for pinch hitter Matt Adams in the top of the 8th after a stellar performance: seven innings, 11 strikeouts, one hit, and two walks after throwing 101 pitches.

Scherzer had several St. Louis batters number Saturday at Busch Stadium; twice he struck out the Cardinals' Dexter Fowler, Tommy Edman, Marcell Ozuna, and Goldschmidt.

Not to be outdone, as each pitchers' duel takes two to tango, the Cardinals' veteran Adam Wainwright tallied 11 strikeouts in seven-plus innings allowing seven hits. 

The Nats opened the scoring aforementioned Taylor home run to lead off the top of the third inning.  

But Wainwright ran into trouble in the 8th allowing a single to Adams and Trea Turner before Adam Eaton snuck a two-run RBI double down the right field line to give Washington a 3-0 advantage.

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