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Nationals get Scherzer ready for postseason, Braves score 7 off him

Nationals get Scherzer ready for postseason, Braves score 7 off him

WASHINGTON -- It was part of the Washington Nationals' plan to push Max Scherzer's pitch count deeper than usual on Wednesday.

The Atlanta Braves' plate discipline and timely hitting in the seventh inning wasn't in the script.

Dansby Swanson smacked a bases-loaded, go-ahead two-run single off Scherzer, Matt Kemp hit a grand slam two batters later and Atlanta beat Washington 8-2.


Atlanta scored six runs in the seventh, and five were charged to Scherzer (14-6), who walked the bases loaded and remained in the game despite having thrown 114 pitches. Swanson then hit a 1-0 pitch to left to make it 4-2.

"We were just able to string good at-bats together," Swanson said. "Good pitchers like that, it's hard to be able to do that. It kind of gets magnified when you are able to do it."

The Nationals intentionally walked Freddie Freeman before manager Dusty Baker went to the bullpen. Kemp then drilled Brandon Kintzler's first offering to left for his seventh career grand slam and first since 2011.

Scherzer finished with 116 pitches, his most since July 7.

"With an extra day coming up, I thought it would be a good idea to try to get me into the 110, 115, 120 pitch count range tonight," Scherzer said. "I thought that would benefit me going forward and then looking into the postseason, pitch with some extra fatigue."

Scherzer, who had not lost since June 21 and had won six decisions in a row, allowed seven runs over six-plus innings -- the most he has yielded since giving up seven to the Chicago Cubs on May 6, 2016. He walked six batters, his most in nearly five years.

Manager Dusty Baker said he was weighing the long-term benefits of stretching Scherzer out when he opted to leave him in. Washington clinched the NL East on Sunday, but has since dropped back-to-back games.

"That was the game plan before the night started," Baker said. "I know it looked ugly. It looked ugly to you, it looked ugly to us, and the fans and everybody else. But if you have a game plan, then you want to stick with it as much as and as long as you can."

In his second start since his call-up from Triple-A Gwinnett, Atlanta rookie Luiz Gohara (1-1) needed only 71 pitches to complete six innings and secure his first major league victory. He allowed six hits and two runs while striking out six.

"The kid gets locked in and really competes," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "That's what I heard about him, from the guys that played with him, had him, been around him. They say once he gets out there, he's trying to beat you. That's legit stuff there, too."

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The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful


The sound of Bryce Harper's first spring training HR is beautiful

It's that wonderful time of year again — when baseball teams flock to warmer climates for spring training and the regular season is practically around the corner — and Bryce Harper is already killing it.

It took the Washington Nationals a few games to brush away their offseason cobwebs and get back into gear, but since the beginning of March, they're riding a five-game win streak as of Sunday the 4th.

They are 6-4-1 in spring training going into Monday's matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since Thursday, the Nats have taken down — in order — the Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, defending World Series champion Houston Astros, the Detroit Tigers and the Mets again. Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers was in large part thanks to Harper's bat, as the star of the team drilled his first home run of spring training. 


Turn up the volume for this one because the sound of Harper's contact with the ball is just beautiful — and perhaps enough to get you pumped for the March 29 opener.

Harper blew this ball away in the bottom of the third for a two-run homer with Howie Kendrick on base. He also had a single in the fourth and finished the game with three RBI.

Gio Gonzalez was the winning pitcher for the Nats. 


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Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches


Per usual, Max Scherzer strikes out Tim Tebow on three pitches

We are fortunate enough to live in a world where we can watch a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (attempt to) hit against a three-time Cy Young pitcher in a Major League Baseball preseason game.

Max Scherzer took less than a minute to strike out Tim Tebow, who was batting cleanup for the Mets in a spring training game Friday. You can watch the whole at-bat here:

It looks like Tebow and Scherzer are starting to develop a pattern - last year’s matchup between the two went down the exact same way.

Tebow was able to redeem himself later in the game with his first hit of the year against Nats prospect Erick Fedde. He will likely begin the season with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he believes Tebow will eventually see some at-bats in the Majors.