JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Max Scherzer looked amply ready to start on opening day for Washington, striking out nine in six shutout innings during the Nationals’ 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.
Nationals manager Matt Williams recently announced that the newly acquired Scherzer would make his first career start in an opener. Washington begins at home against the New York Mets on April 6.
Making his fifth start of the spring, the former AL Cy Young Award winner allowed only three hits. He didn’t walk anyone and threw 59 of 82 pitches for strikes.
“That was a result of me executing pitches today,” Scherzer said. “I felt like I did a good job of generating swings and misses with all my pitches, but more importantly I didn’t walk anybody. I was pounding the zone.”
“I think I only fell behind two hitters, too, so that’s a more telling number than anything,” he said.
Scherzer also hit Matt Carpenter with a pitch. The Cardinals said he had a bruise on his right quadriceps.
“He wasn’t happy about it, but it was one of those things that it hit him kind of square on the quad and that can potentially lead to something else, so why mess with it?” manager Mike Matheny said.
Matheny also removed Kolten Wong as a precaution after the second baseman was hit by a pitch leading off the eighth.
Cardinals starter Michael Wacha also enjoyed a strong outing, giving up four hits in 5 2-3 innings and striking out four.
Wacha retired 13 of 14 batters at one stretch, a string only interrupted by his first walk this spring.
Ty Kelly hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Nationals: Stephen Strasburg threw a bullpen on Tuesday and is ready to appear in a Grapefruit League game, manager Matt Williams said. Strasburg rolled an ankle in the weight room, causing him to miss what would have been his third scheduled spring start.
“We’ll just slate him in later on at the end of the week,” Williams said.
Cardinals: Matheny said John Lackey will start in Friday’s split-squad game at Roger Dean Stadium against the Mets, while Carlos Martinez will head to Viera to face the Nationals.
Nationals: Jayson Werth played only in the field in a minor league game on Wednesday. Afterward, he was scheduled to get more aggressive with his batting practice. Werth underwent offseason shoulder surgery and has yet to appear in an exhibition game.
“I’m encouraged by him,” Williams said. “There’s no issue with throwing, so that’s a good sign.”
Closer Drew Storen appeared in a minor league game on Wednesday. He underwent surgery to repair a broken non-throwing hand earlier this spring. He is expected to be ready for the start of the season.
Cardinals: Tommy Pham, whose candidacy for the final outfield spot is running out of time, did some running before the game but still isn’t ready to play because of a quad injury.
“I don’t think he’s that far away,” Matheny said.
The Cardinals’ lineup looked much the same as it is expected to look once the season begins, which means Jon Jay hitting seventh and Wong batting eighth. To Matheny, that’s a formidable look.
“That’s not a whole lot of time for the opposing team to breathe,” Matheny said. “Either one of those guys could really hurt you at any time.”
Nationals: Gio Gonzalez makes his fourth spring start, facing the Nationals.
Cardinals: Adam Wainwright will make his second spring start when St. Louis is at home against Henderson Alvarez and Miami.