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Looking back on Max Scherzer's 20-strikeout game, four years later

Looking back on Max Scherzer's 20-strikeout game, four years later

In just 15 seasons of existence, the Washington Nationals have already accumulated an impressive list of individual and team accomplishments. There have been three no-hitters, a three-homer game, a triple play and of course a World Series.

Nothing, however, has been quite as rare and exclusive as what happened on May 11, 2016, four years ago today. That night, at Nationals Park, Max Scherzer became just the fifth pitcher in MLB history to strike out 20 batters in a single game. 

Scherzer was just the fourth pitcher to accomplish the feat in nine innings. And he became just the second pitcher, joining Randy Johnson, to have both a no-hitter and a 20-strikeout game on his resume.

The night capped what was arguably the wildest regular season series in Nationals history if you consider all that occurred. It was a rare interleague match-up between the Nationals and Tigers, a three-game set that began on a Monday.

Everyone had circled the Wednesday night game because it was Scherzer’s first meeting with his former team and he was going to pitch opposite Jordan Zimmermann, who was also going up against the team he had recently left in free agency.

But all of that was overshadowed initially during the opener on Monday night, when news broke Stephen Strasburg had agreed to a surprise contract extension with the Nationals. Many had assumed he too would leave in free agency the following winter, yet out of nowhere he and the team brokered a seven-year, $175 million contract.

It caught a lot of people off-guard and had beat writers scrambling to confirm and report the news. The night would then take another wild turn when the Nationals won on a walk-off homer hit by Clint Robinson.

The Tuesday game wasn’t historic, but had enough to quicken your pulse. Ryan Zimmerman hit two homers and the Nats had a runner in scoring position with one out, down just one run in the ninth, before losing.

Then came Wednesday which was the pitching match-up everyone had been waiting for. Two elite pitchers at the time, both looking for retribution against teams that chose to let them go.

Nats fans were anticipating Zimmermann’s first appearance as an opponent at Nationals Park. They gave him a healthy round of applause when he was introduced and then during his first at-bat.

But Scherzer had other ideas that night. He was amped to face his former teammates and carved them up with ruthless precision.

Scherzer struck out nine of the first 11 batters he faced, eight on swinging strikeouts. He would later close with five strikeouts in the eighth and ninth innings. In the eighth, he struck out the side, all looking.

Keep in mind the Tigers were loaded with good hitters back then. This wasn’t your present-day bottom-feeder of the AL Central.

Scherzer struck out future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera three times, multi-time All-Stars Ian Kinsler and J.D. Martinez three times, as well as Justin Upton twice. Somehow Victor Martinez didn’t strike out once and landed three hits, including a homer to lead off the ninth.

Like all 20-strikeout games, it was barely finished off. To get 20 strikeouts, you only have seven outs to spare in a nine-inning game. If you pitch a complete game, 74.1 percent of your outs have to be Ks.

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And Scherzer didn’t get his 20th until the 26th out, a swinging strikeout of Upton. During the at-bat, Upton nearly popped out in foul territory to Zimmerman, who missed the catch by a few feet. If he caught it, Scherzer almost certainly would have ended with 19.

Scherzer also had to burn 119 pitches, 96 of which were strikes. He emptied the tank to make history.

There were some remarkable post-scripts to that night. Like the fact that Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was on the opposing end of his third 20-strikeout game. He was a player on teams that faced both Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens when they struck out 20.

And then there was the all-time great quote by Scherzer to sum up the night.

“Strikeouts are sexy,” he said.

That quote still lives in the hearts and minds of Nationals fans, and his 20 strikeouts will live forever in baseball history.

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Blue Jays players could face hefty punishment for leaving quarantine due to Canadian regulations

Blue Jays players could face hefty punishment for leaving quarantine due to Canadian regulations

As Major League Baseball slowly inches closer to the beginning of the regular season, an important procedure for all players involved is remaining safe and smart when they are not at the ballpark. With the coronavirus pandemic still a major threat to the sport and the public, teams are stressing the importance of remaining in safe environments.

While staying healthy for their teammates and family is enough for every player to make the right decisions, the Toronto Blue Jays may have another reason to not break away from the designated safe areas.

According to TSN's Scott Mitchell, players could face a fine up to $750,000 and jail time as a maximum punishment if they are outside places they are allowed to be.

To be clear, this report does not mean that the players will definitively face this punishment if they break quarantine. The consequences above are the maximum sentence a person could face. Additionally, this is not a regulation that was created by the Blue Jays. It is part of a Canadian Federal Government Act known as the Quarantine Act.

The Act relates to personnel who have re-entered the country, as they are then required to complete a 14-day quarantine. Because the Blue Jays will be consistently traveling to the United States for games, they fall into this category every time they travel back to Toronto.

REPORT: 6 NATIONALS AMONG DR PLAYERS MLB DID NOT TEST

The Nationals travel to Toronto for their first road series of the season on July 29-30, immediately after playing the Blue Jays in Washington D.C. The Baltimore Orioles travel to Toronto twice, playing the Blue Jays at the end of August and then again to close out the season in September. 

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Giants catcher Buster Posey opts out of 2020 to take care of newly adopted twins

Giants catcher Buster Posey opts out of 2020 to take care of newly adopted twins

Six-time All-Star and 2012 NL MVP Buster Posey has opted out of playing the 2020 MLB season, the Giants catcher told reporters on a Zoom call Friday. He’s the 11th player to decide not to play in the abbreviated season MLB is holding amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Posey and his wife, Kristen, recently adopted identical twin girls who were born prematurely and are expected to be in a neonatal intensive care unit for some time. The three-time World Series champion spent the last few days away from training camp while he deliberated the decision.

Other former All-Stars such as Felix Hernandez, David Price, Nick Markakis and Ian Desmond announced their decisions to opt out over the last three weeks. The Nationals have had three players—Ryan Zimmerman, Joe Ross and Welington Castillo—opt out of the season, the most of any team so far.

RELATED: 6 NATIONALS REPORTEDLY AMONG PLAYERS MLB DIDN'T TEST FOR COVID-19 BEFORE FLIGHT FROM D.R.

“I don’t condone anybody from making decisions that they feel they need to make,” Nationals manager Davey Martinez said in a Zoom press conference Friday. “I’m sure that Posey really thought about it and he tried it and felt like he couldn’t do it. Hey, to each his own. That’s the way he felt and we don’t hold that against him.”

As the summer progresses, the number of players who opt out will be a defining statistic that will determine the legitimacy of the 2020 season. MLB and the players union issued a joint report Friday that found that 83 of the 11,149 samples (0.2%) of “Covered Individuals” have tested positive for the coronavirus.

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