Nationals’ Scherzer quiets Rays’ bats in win

by Gary Shelton on September 8, 2020

in general

Morton still working his way back into shape./JEFFREY KING

Tuesday, 3 a.m.

There was nothing like Max to minimize the Rays' batting order Monday night.

Max Scherzer, the three-time Cy Young winner, put the Rays' bats in his back pocket, growing stronger as the game went on to lead the Washington Nationals to a 6-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Scherzer threw seven shutout innings, allowing just six hits. In his final three innings, he gave up just one hit. The Rays had two runners on base in both the first and the third, but once Scherzer broke a sweat, he was hard to deal with.

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“We recognize who we’re facing," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "We’re not going to get many opportunities as talented as Scherzer is. We had some good at bats early on. We almost drove his pitch count up. We didn’t have anything to show for it. He settled in and got in his groove, reset his pitch count because he was so efficient. It almost seemed as if his fastball got better as the game went on. “

That isn't surprising with Scherzer. The book on him suggests that a team needs to get to him early.

He was even tougher when threatened. The Rays were 0-for-8 on the night with runners in scoring position.

"That’s him," Cash said. "I’ve seem him for many years now. We all have. Once he settles in, he gets really, really tough, whether it’s command or some extra velocity. There is a reason he’ll be going to the Hall of Fame one day when he decides not to pitch anymore."

Said Rays' Joey Wendle: "He's obvious pretty special. We've seen that for a number of years. When the situation gets tough, he kind of buckles down a little bit. Sometimes, you have to tip your hat to the pitcher. He did pretty well tonight.

"He has that competitive nature. As the leverage of the situation goes up, so does his competitive nature. He's got special stuff, and he's a pretty special competitor, too."

The Rays' only run came when rookie Randy Arozarena hit a solo home run in the eighth inning.

For the Rays, Charlie Morton gave up three earned runs in five innings in his second game since returning from the injured list. Trevor Richards them came in and gave up three more, allowing five of the first six hitters he faced to reach base.

“I thought Charlie had a really good outing," Cash said. "Looking at the outing. he probably like to have two two-strike breaking balls back, one to (Trea) Turner and one to (Kurt) Suzuki. They weren’t necessarily that bad of pitches. Just want to get them a little lower and try to get them to expand and maybe miss. Other than that, everything looked really really good.”

Morton wasn't quite as impressed with himself. He was happy he pitched five innings, but he should have been better.

"As far as building up, it couldn't have gone much better," Morton said. "But this isn't spring training. These aren't exhibition games. Every pitch matters. These need to be quality innings."

The Rays will start Ryan Yarbroogh for the first time since he returned from the injured list in tonight's 6:05 p.m. game against Washington. The Bats will counter with Anibal Sanchez.


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