By Michael Marzzacco
Having clinched the division eight days prior and home field advantage on Saturday, the Nationals entered Game 162 with not much to play for, except one thing. Max Scherzer was going for his 20th win of the season, an NL best.
The Nats scored three runs in the bottom of the second. Jose Lobaton hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Stephen Drew. Scherzer helped his own cause, driving in two runs with a base hit up the middle that scored Wilmer Difo and Danny Espinosa. The Marlins challenged the tag on Espinosa but the play was upheld.
The Marlins closed the gap to 3-2 with a two run homer by Destin Hood. Scherzer hit another two-RBI single up the middle that scored the same two runners, Difo and Espinosa, to put the Nats ahead 5-2.
Miami tied it in the fifth with a homer by Tomas Telis and an RBI triple by Christian Yelich that scored Derek Dietrich. The Nationals regained the lead in the fifth. With runners on first and third, Difo drove Harper home from third base on a grounder to second. The Marlins failed to turn the double play as they only got Drew out at second. Espinosa gave the Nats insurance with a two run homer over the out of town scoreboard in right-center for his 24th of the year.
The Marlins wouldn’t go quietly as they pulled within one run, 8-7, on a two-RBI single by Telis. The Nats added two more runs in the bottom of the eighth. Trea Turner hit an RBI single up the middle into center field that scored Pedro Severino. Ben Revere followed with a single into left field that scored Spencer Kieboom for the game’s final run.
The Nationals 10-7 win over the Marlins sealed Scherzer’s 20th win of the season.
“It’s unbelievable and honestly, it’s such a team accomplishment. These guys absolutely supported me the whole year, playing defense, going out there and scoring runs and our bullpen is coming in and shutting the door. I don’t win 20 without the rest of these guys in the clubhouse. They’ve been grinding the whole year for me. It’s just an unbelievable honor,” said Scherzer.
On Friday, Scherzer will get the start for Washington in Game 1 of the NLDS at Nationals Park in an epic pitcher’s duel between him and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers.