Scherzer is too much
’13 Cy Young winner holds Orioles to two hits in eight innings
WASHINGTON — The Orioles were not able to complete a four-game interleague sweep of the Washington Nationals on Thursday night, but nobody can blame Ubaldo Jimenez for that.
Jimenez, who replaced injured ace Chris Tillman for the final game of the home-and-home series, pitched one of his best games of an agonizing season, but in the wrong place at the wrong time.
MaxScherzer, the 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner who was honored with a bobblehead night to commemorate his second of two 2015 no-hitters, was almost unhittable in a 4-0 victory before an announced sellout of 39,722 at Nationals Park.
He retired the first nine batters he faced, striking out six, before Adam Jones hit a leadoff double in the fourth. Scherzer set down an additional 12 in a row on the way to an eight-inning, two-hit performance that featured his 47th career double-digit (10) strikeout game.
“He’s really good,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s got great command, he’s got a lot of deception and he’s got three out pitches — really, four. It’s a reminder why those No. 1 starters are hard to find. There are only about five true ones in each league, and that’s also why they cost a lot.”
It was just a dominant performance and it came at a time when the Nationals needed to end a six-game interleague losing streak against the Orioles.
“He was locked in and he threw everything for strikes and was keeping all the hitters off balance,” Adam Jones follows through on his leadoff double in the fourth inning, the first base runner off Nationals starter Max Scherzer. Scherzer retired the next 12 Orioles and gave up one more hit in the game. outfielder Steve Pearce said. “It’s definitely frustrating. We’re trying to get him out of his rhythm, but we struggled tonight doing that. He did a good job.”
The Orioles got the leadoff batter into scoring position in the eighth inning after Mark Trumbo singled and stole second with two outs, but J.J. Hardy could only hit a long-but-routine fly ball to center field.
Scherzer gave way to closer Mark Melancon after eight innings, but he likely would have finished the game if the score had remained 1-0. He had thrown only 95 pitches.
Hyun Soo Kim doubled to start the ninth for the Orioles and reached third with one out, but was stranded there.
Like Scherzer, Jimenez cruised through the first three innings — giving up just one hit — but left his first pitch of the fourth over the plate and Jayson Werth hammered it over the center-field fence for a 1-0 lead.
That was all Washington got while Jimenez (5-11) was on the mound.
Logan Ondrusek shut down the bottom of the Nats batting order in the seventh to keep the Orioles within a run, but he could not handle the top of the Washington lineup in the eighth. He allowed the first three batters to hit safely and bring home the second run before Mike Wright came on and allowed a two-run double to Bryce Harper. Jones cramps up: Pedro Alvarez pinch-hit for Jones in the ninth inning after Jones experienced cramping in one of his hamstrings during the eighth.
Showalter said the team will wait until today to determine whether it will cost him playing time, but Jones said after the game he expects to be in the starting lineup for the series opener tonight against the New York Yankees.