This was not a uncooked, grey, wet day for Yankees followers to be offended at their group. Over almost eight innings, this was a uncooked, grey, wet day for them to be offended on the baseball overlords who determined, in 1893, that the pitcher’s mound must be moved again to 60 ft, 6 inches.
Had these overlords moved it again to, say, 66 ft, the Yankees may need had a prayer towards Max Scherzer 128 years later.
“You got 110 pitches today,” Nationals supervisor Davey Martinez had advised him. Scherzer gave him 109 earlier than he was eliminated within the eighth, earlier than Martinez approached the mound and Scherzer stated, “Yep, it’s time.”
Scherzer struck out 14 batters and allowed simply two hits, one stroll and one run — on a Kyle Higashioka homer — earlier than heading to the dugout and liberating the Yankees from the holy hell he had rained down on them. It was a day to have fun Scherzer’s greatness as he joined Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez as the one pitchers to ship not less than 100 video games of double-figure strikeouts. The Yankees would possibly as nicely have been swinging broomsticks or Wiffle-ball bats up there on this man-against-boys encounter.
But there was no Mad Max sequel popping out of the Washington bullpen, not even shut. So when the sport was over, after Gleyber Torres had tied it within the ninth with an RBI single after which won it in the 11th with a bases-loaded dribbler against a five-man infield, the Yankees have been in a significantly better place than the 36-year-old pitcher who had dominated them. After enduring a 2-hour, 25-minute rain delay, they had proven October toughness towards an October pitcher in an October-like recreation performed in October-like circumstances.
All of which, you understand, is perhaps the primary encouraging signal of what’s to come within the postseason, assuming the Yankees make it there.
This wasn’t essentially the primary signal of life from this big-budget 17-16 group. Though the Yankees misplaced an alternative to sweep the Astros when Jose Altuve went deep Thursday, they nonetheless confirmed some fortitude over these three days. The Stadium crowds demanded blood, not less than figuratively if not actually, as payback for the Astros’ dishonest methods, and the Yankees kind of delivered by successful the collection, marking the primary time this 12 months they actually gave their followers what they wished.
Saturday offered a special type of alternative — an opportunity to show they might beat a dwelling legend on the mound, an ace who spent the day changing into one of many 20 most prolific strikeout pitchers of all time. Scherzer just isn’t an exceptionally massive presence, however he’s an intimidating pressure all the identical. His glare is made extra forbidding by his signature bodily trait — heterochromia iridis. He is a future Hall of Famer with a number of Cy Young Awards, a number of no-hitters and multiple-colored eyes.
“I’ve always celebrated it,” Scherzer as soon as stated of getting one brown eye and one blue eye. “Whether you like it or not, that’s who I am.”
He stared down the Yankees one thing good, retiring 13 straight and 14 out of 15 earlier than Martinez got here to get him. It had been 15 years because the Yankees had performed a recreation that includes starters who had gained multiple Cy Young Award, and although Corey Kluber was rattling good, Scherzer was significantly better. In the top, the Yankees weren’t attempting to beat him as a lot as they have been attempting to outlast him, just like the dynasty groups usually tried to do towards Pedro Martinez.
It labored. Aaron Judge and Torres managed nice at-bats towards the unraveling Brad Hand within the ninth, staying inside themselves and going the opposite manner. Mike Ford, of all individuals, honored Aaron Boone’s questionable religion in him and deserted his sacrifice-bunt makes an attempt to snap a 1-for-23 streak with one other opposite-field hit that made it 3-3 within the tenth. Justin Wilson was lights out within the eleventh earlier than Torres despatched everybody dwelling along with his gradual curler off Tanner Rainey.
The Yankees refused to fall again below .500, and Scherzer, the perfectionist, was left to blame himself for that hanging slider to Higashioka within the third.
“To me, that’s the difference in the game,” he stated. “If I can execute that pitch better, maybe we win the game. … You always have to be accountable for the mistakes you make.”
Boone referred to as Scherzer “a load” who compelled the Yankees to “try to crawl our way back into the game.” They crawled. They scratched. They gained an ugly recreation towards a lovely pitcher.
Yeah, it’s solely Game 33 out of 162. But thanks to Scherzer, the entire expertise felt much more profound than that.