|Scherzer, Nats seek four-game sweep of Marlins|
It is hard to believe: The Washington Nationals are just 2-9 when Max Scherzer starts this season.
A three-time Cy Young Award winner who will face the visiting Miami Marlins on Monday in the finale of a four-game series, Scherzer hasn't forgotten how to pitch. He leads the National League with 96 strikeouts and has eight quality starts in 11 appearances.
But, due to poor run support and the worst bullpen ERA in the majors, Scherzer (2-5, 3.41 ERA) has struggled.
The hardest he was hit this year came on April 20, when the Nationals lost 9-3 to the host Marlins in Scherzer's only matchup against Miami this year. He allowed 11 hits and seven runs, six earned, in 5 1/3 innings. The first three figures are all season highs.
"Max is like a freight train," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He's going to keep coming at you. We had a lot of big hits in that game."
Jose Urena, who beat Scherzer on April 20 for his first win of the season, will start against him again on Monday.
"It's extremely important to keep up with (Scherzer)," said Urena, who is 2-6 with a 4.30 ERA this year. "I have to limit the damage."
Urena did just that in his only appearance against the Nationals this year, allowing just three runs, two earned, in six innings. Urena worked around eight hits and one walk, and Miami's bullpen provided three scoreless innings of relief.
Historically, the Nationals should have the advantage in this pitching matchup. Scherzer is a six-time All-Star who has led the league in wins four times. He is 12-4 (3.28 ERA) in his career against the Marlins, including 5-0 (2.38 ERA) last year.
Urena, however, has done well against Washington in 12 career appearances, including six starts. He is 4-2 with a 3.47 ERA and one complete game. The only team he has beaten more than Washington is the New York Mets, and he has a losing record against them (5-6).
On Monday, the Nationals will be going for a four-game sweep of the Marlins. After beating the Marlins 9-6 on Sunday, they have won a season-high three straight games.
The Nationals had entered the series on a season-worst five-game skid.
Among Washington's hottest hitters entering Monday are Howie Kendrick, Brian Dozier and Juan Soto.
Kendrick went 3-for-5 with a homer, a two-run single, two runs scored and three RBIs on Sunday. He was also robbed of extra bases by Harold Ramirez's running catch against the wall in right-center.
Dozier also had a big game for Washington on Sunday, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs.
Soto extended his hit streak to 10 games and is batting .486 during that span (18-for-37).
For Miami, Brian Anderson has three homers in his past six games, and he also stroked a three-run double on Sunday. Neil Walker also drove in three runs on Sunday, nailing a two-run homer before adding a run-scoring single.
--Field Level Media