Scherzer says he’s in ‘funk’ after Nats lose to Phillies 4-3 – USA TODAY

6 months ago Comments Off on Scherzer says he’s in ‘funk’ after Nats lose to Phillies 4-3 – USA TODAY

WASHINGTON (AP) — After all of six pitches, Max Scherzer had allowed a walk and a two-run homer.

Not the sort of thing the Washington Nationals came to expect from their staff ace, he of two no-hitters last season.

And after he allowed three runs and seven hits, along with four walks, in a no-decision as Washington lost 4-3 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night, Scherzer blamed problems with controlling where his fastball goes.

“You go through funks. Right now, this is a funk,” Scherzer said. “But at the end of the day, this is an easy thing to correct. This is just a minor tweak. You get through it. And for me, I envision attacking the zone at a much higher rate my next start.”

He was particularly bothered by all of the free passes, saying: “That’s just unacceptable.”

Scherzer, who joined Washington as a free agent before last season with a $210 million, seven-year deal, walked Odubel Herrera on four pitches to begin the game.

Then he served up Andres Blanco’s first homer of the season, a two-run shot to right-center off a 94 mph fastball that made it 2-0.

It’s already the fifth home run allowed by Scherzer this season, continuing a trend from the second half of 2015, when he finished with a total of 27 homers allowed.

Scherzer also walked a batter in the fourth, when he fell behind 3-1 on Cesar Hernandez’s RBI single.

“Obviously,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said about Scherzer, “he’s a better pitcher than he pitched tonight.”

The 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner with the Detroit Tigers did take solace in this: His offspeed pitches felt just fine Tuesday.

“Everything’s not broke,” Scherzer said. “This isn’t a time where you … throw your glove around. The pitches are there. It’s just a little fine-tuning. And that’s the difference between dominance and being average at this level.”

One thing that he insisted did not bother him was Blanco’s repeatedly calling timeout during at-bats. After the game, Blanco — who had three hits and scored the tiebreaking run in the seventh — acknowledged doing so because he was bothered by Scherzer holding the ball too long between pitches.

“He didn’t like it at all,” Blanco said.

For his part, Scherzer said: “He can call time all he wants.”

Before his team faced Bryce Harper, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin spoke about “a theory” he’d developed for how to pitch to the reigning NL MVP.

After Philadelphia closer Jeanmar Gomez got Harper to ground out with a runner on first base to end the game, Mackanin quipped: “I’m going to walk him every time we face him this series. No, I’m kidding. That’s a joke.”

Sort of.

Philadelphia did walk Harper three times, including twice intentionally with a man on second, but the young slugger delivered a run-scoring single off Vincent Velasquez (3-1) in the fifth.

And Mackanin’s thinking in the ninth, after Anthony Rendon singled off Gomez, bringing up Harper with the pitcher’s spot up next because of an earlier double-switch?

“I wasn’t going to walk him and put the tying run at second base,” the skipper explained.

Harper, who bats third for Washington, entered the day leading the league in homers (nine) and RBIs (23). In Washington’s previous game, he hit a tying homer in the ninth.

So he was hoping for something similar Tuesday.

“I’m always living for that moment,” Harper said, arms crossed over his chest. “Really excited when Rendon got on base right there, knowing possibly I could tie the game or hit a ball out of the park and win a game.”

He fouled off several sinkers, before Gomez finally got him to bounce the ball to third on a changeup.

“You can’t hit a homer every time,” Harper said.


Nationals: RHP Matt Belisle exited the game after straining his right calf while facing one batter in the eighth inning. He said it was similar to an injury he got during the offseason.


Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 1.42 ERA) faces RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 5.21 ERA) in Wednesday’s second game of the three-game series.


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Scherzer says he’s in ‘funk’ after Nats lose to Phillies 4-3 – USA TODAY

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