The Atlanta Braves have been living a charmed existence during the first couple months of the 2018 season. A 34-23 start, a long stay in first place, a rebuilding plan that has come together ahead of schedule, frightening injuries to foundation players — Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. — that turned out to be much less serious than initially feared.
Then, with the National League East favorite Washington Nationals visiting SunTrust Park for a big, four-game series this weekend, there was this: The Braves missed Max Scherzer’s turn through the rotation.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap
As it turns out, though Atlanta won’t have to face Scherzer’s filthy repertoire on the mound this weekend, they were beaten by him anyway. Scherzer’s pinch-hit single in the 14th inning sparked a two-run rally as the Nationals outlasted the Braves 5-3 on Saturday and moved within a half-game of Atlanta in the NL East.
Scherzer’s hit off Braves reliever Miguel Socolovich with one out in the 14th was far from a screamer. Statcast gave Scherzer’s knock an exit velocity of 83.8 mph. But it got the job done.
“I’ve hit in big situations, so it’s the same thing,” Scherzer said. “You go up there, you have to get in the box and have pre-pitch thoughts and, for me, try to hit it up the middle. I’m not going to be hitting the ball out of the ballpark. I know that. I’ve got a high school swing. I know it. But, hey, it’s good enough just to get a ball in play, and sure enough, something happens.”
It was Scherzer’s first career pinch hit in his third appearance in the role. Overall, the three-time Cy Young winner is a .194 career hitter with one home run. This season, he stole his first career base, something Washington manager Dave Martinez thought might have been on his ace’s mind as he led off first base.
Instead, after a Michael Taylor fly out, Wilmer Difo hammered a drive to right-center that reached the fence. Off on contact, Scherzer raced around the bases to score standing up, while Difo slid into third with a go-ahead triple. Difo then scored when Cobb County, Georgia, native Spencer Kieboom singled him home.
“It looked like [Scherzer] was going to try to steal as well, and I was like, ‘Oh, boy,'” Martinez said. “Then all of a sudden, he goes first to home, and I’m holding my breath. But he was flying. I said, ‘You can run.’ He said, ‘I can do it all.’ Kudos to him. He picked us up.”
As a starting pitcher, Scherzer bats on a semi-regular basis. Still, it had been a while since he’d gone first to home.
“A couple of years ago,” Scherzer said. “I got it. I know how to run the bases.”cheap nfl jerseys nike china
According to Statcast, Scherzer’s mad dash around the bases took 10.89 seconds, giving him a sprint speed of 26.9 seconds. The league average is 27 seconds, and if Scherzer had enough instances to qualify, 26.9 seconds would rank 10th on the Nationals, just ahead of outfielders Adam Eaton and Bryce Harper.