Scherzer carves up Rays in 4-2 victory for Nats (updated)

He spent Saturday coming off the bench in the 14th inning in Atlanta to deliver a pinch-hit single and then score the game-winning run from first base. He spent Monday donning a Capitals jersey, helmet, gloves and stick along with Ryan Zimmerman and getting the crowd at Capital One Arena fired up for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

And Max Scherzer loved every minute of it. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, he does everything full-tilt, giving nothing less than his full effort no matter the activity.

So when he arose this morning and pondered both what he had experienced over the previous couple of days and what he was going to set out to do this evening, Scherzer needed no extra motivation.

“The energy from Game 4 … I swear I woke up this morning with an extra bounce in my step,” he said. “The way the Caps played, the fans, the energy at that stadium, everyone here in D.C. … how could you not wake up with an extra bounce in your step? I was itching to get out to the field and play. Good things happen when the whole city gets behind you.”

And good things happen when Scherzer pitches. Which, lest anyone forget, is what he really gets paid $210 million to do.

He did it tonight about as well as he has in any of his previous 110 starts for the Nationals. With precision, power and efficiency, Scherzer carved up the Rays lineup, carrying a shutout into the eighth inning before finally succumbing and allowing two runs. The Nats, who had opened up a four-run lead early, still went on to win 4-2 behind a scoreless ninth from Sean Doolittle.


Scherzer wound up with 13 strikeouts over eight sparkling innings, throwing an astonishing 81-of-99 pitches for strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to 25-of-28 batters. He struck out 13 or more without issuing a walk for the third time in his career, a feat only six pitchers in history have done more times.

“It’s hard to compare him to anybody, really,” manager Davey Martinez said. “I’m around him every day. From the other side, you see him and you say: ‘Wow, every fifth day, he’s really good.’ But to see him every day, he’s the best. He…