Scherzer looks to notch another win vs. Braves (May 20, 2017)
ATLANTA — Max Scherzer proved in his first start at SunTrust Park that the Atlanta Braves’ new ballpark doesn’t have to be a hitter’s paradise.
He’ll look to do it again Saturday, though the location of the game doesn’t seem to matter for Scherzer.
Heading into the second game of the three-game series, the Washington right-hander is 5-0 with a 3.12 ERA in his last starts against the Braves since the start of last season.
“I don’t pitch according to the park,” said Scherzer, who limited the Braves to two hits over seven scoreless innings in Washington’s 3-1 victory April 18.
Of course, it takes a pitcher on his game to get the upper hand no matter where it is and Scherzer is the defending National League Cy Young Award winner.
Part of the right-hander’s portfolio in taking the honor in 2016 was his work against the Braves, who were the victim in four of his 20 victories.
Scherzer (4-2, 2.80 ERA) will be opposed by Bartolo Colon (2-4, 6.80 ERA) as the Nationals look the even the series.
The Braves (17-22) scored three times in the eighth inning Friday night for a 7-4 victory, beating the Nationals (25-16) for just the fifth time in their past 23 meetings.
Colon, who turns 44 years old?next Wednesday, has struggled in his first season with the Braves, but at least got back on the winning track at Toronto?on Monday.
Colon had a 9.95 ERA and opponents were batting .375 against him in his previous four starts before holding the Blue Jays to two earned runs over five innings.
A vintage Colon start it wasn’t, but at least it was closer than most had been this season.
“He’s a professional. A gamer,” Braves left fielder Matt Kemp said “He was doing his thing. Hopefully it carries over. He was moving the ball like you expect to do.”
Colon threw his off-speed pitches with more regularity early and had better downward movement on his two-seam fastball.
“Everything was feeling good,” Colon said through a translator. “I started throwing some off-speed pitches in the first inning, and I usually don’t do that. I usually focus on the fastball in the first. That off-speed stuff yielded the results I was seeking.”
Colon didn’t face the Nationals in their first visit to Atlanta. He is 4-6 with a 3.71 ERA in 12 games against them, including a 7-1 victory last May while he was with the New York Mets.
Scherzer will be making his 14th appearance against the Braves and he is 6-3 with a 3.34 ERA against them.
Scherzer, who has a WHIP of 0.95, has 70 strikeouts and is six behind New York Mets’ right-hander Jacob deGrom for the National league lead. He also has held opponents to a .198 batting average.
Scherzer was drilled on the left knee by a vicious liner in his last start, a no-decision against Philadelphia, but he pitched on and hasn’t had any issues since.
“I’m good,” he said. “It’s unbelievable, but (I) don’t even have a mark.”
The Nationals, with their shaky bullpen, need another good outing from Scherzer. Washington has lost three games in a row and six of the past seven on the road.