Scherzer looks to end rare skid as Nats face Orioles
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) stands at home plate during the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
WASHINGTON -- Their winning streak against the Baltimore Orioles ended, the Washington Nationals will turn to Max Scherzer on Thursday night as they look to win the three-game series against the team with the worst record in baseball.
Scherzer (10-3, 2.06 ERA), seeking to avoid losing three starts in a row for the first time since 2015, will be opposed by Kevin Gausman (3-6, 4.48).
In each of his last two outings, Scherzer has made one mistake and the Washington bats haven't been able to overcome it. On June 10, he allowed a two-run homer to Brandon Crawford in a 2-0 home loss to the San Francisco Giants, and last Saturday he was touched for a two-run shot by Toronto's Devon Travis, also in a 2-0 loss.
"This is major league baseball. One pitch can cost you a game. Now I've had it happen back-to-back starts," Scherzer told the Washington Post. "... You can get beat like that."
Scherzer allowed a combined eight hits in the two losses while striking out 19 in his first back-to-back defeats since 2015.
He leads the NL in wins, strikeouts (152) and opponents' batting average (.171) and ranks second in ERA.
Scherzer is 6-2 with a 2.87 ERA in 11 career starts versus the Orioles. He beat them on May 30, throwing eight shutout innings and giving up just two hits.
Adam Jones is 13-for-32 (.406) with three doubles and four home runs against Scherzer, while Manny Machado is 2-for-25 and Mark Trumbo is 1-for-16.
On Wednesday night, the Orioles got a two-run homer from Trumbo and five pitchers combined for a 3-0 win, snapping a six-game losing streak against Washington that dated to last season.
Baltimore (21-51) won for only the fourth time in 21 games and improved the majors' worst road record to 10-28 after the teams endured a 2-hour, 43-minute rain delay.
"It's never easy, especially when you get over the hour mark, two-hour mark," Trumbo said. "Then you have to restart. It's almost two games in one, so great job by our guys tonight."
One night after pounding out 14 hits, the Nationals (39-33) were held to five and were shut out for the fourth time in their last nine games.
"We've got some pretty good hitters," Washington manager Dave Martinez said. "We've just got to keep pushing and keep going. The runs will come. I know they'll come and when they do come they'll come in bunches."
Gausman has not won since May 11, though in his last two starts it had as much to do with the Baltimore bats as his pitching. On June 9, he allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings of a 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays. Then on June 15, he gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings of a 2-0 loss to the Miami Marlins as he allowed five hits and threw 107 pitches.
"Kevin gave us a really good chance to win," manager Buck Showalter told the Baltimore Sun. "I'm sure he'd like to take back some of the 0-2 hits he gave up, but two runs ... I can't fault him for that. It just gets magnified any runs our pitchers give up because we're struggling so much to score runs."
Gausman is 3-1 with a 4.70 ERA in four career starts against the Nationals. Bryce Harper is 3-for-7 against him and Anthony Rendon is 3-for-9.
Updated June 21, 2018