Thu, 06 May 2021

Dodgers host Nationals in duel of three-time Cy Young winners

Field Level Media
11 Apr 2021, 22:55 GMT+10

Baseball royalty will be on display Sunday afternoon when the Los Angeles Dodgers host the Washington Nationals in the finale of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.

The Nationals will send right-hander Max Scherzer (0-0, 6.00 ERA) to the mound against Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (1-1, 4.62)in a matchup between two of the 10 pitchers ever to win three or more Cy Young Awards.

The Dodgers already have won three series in three tries on the new season. They will be chasing their first series sweep after a 9-5 victory over the Nationals on Saturday that followed a 1-0 victory in Los Angeles' home opener Friday.

Kershaw will be making his home debut after pitching twice on the road already. He had a rough time at Colorado on Opening Day, giving up six runs (five earned) in 5 2/3 innings of an 8-5 defeat. He was much better Tuesday at Oakland, giving up just one run on four hits with eight strikeouts and no walks in seven innings of a 5-1 victory.

The difference for the 33-year old was an improved slider.

"It was better, for sure," Kershaw said. "It's always an emphasis. It's important for me. Definitely, when you don't pitch well, you work on everything and try and get better."

While Kershaw is a sparking 12-3 against the Nationals lifetime in 17 regular-season appearances (16 starts), with a 2.23 ERA, he has a rich playoff history against them as well.

He was the hero in the 2016 National League Division series when he pitched in consecutive games and earned the save in the clinching Game 5. But in the 2019 NLDS, he couldn't hold the lead in another clincher. The Nationals won the game and went on to win the World Series.

Scherzer started the Nationals' delayed season opener on April 6, giving up four runs on five hits over six innings, with no walks and nine strikeouts. All four runs came on home runs, but he ended up with a no decision in Washington's eventual 6-5 victory.

That opening game, delayed five days because of COVID-19 concerns throughout the Nationals' roster, remains Washington's only victory in five tries.

The Nationals have been competitive, Saturday notwithstanding, but are still in adjustment mode after the erratic start to their season.

"That's a testament to these guys," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We'll start winning some of these one-run, two-run games, I'm sure of that, but I'm proud of the way the guys are going about their business."

Scherzer is 5-4 lifetime against the Dodgers in 14 appearances (12 starts) and has a 2.76 ERA.

After they were shut out in consecutive games Wednesday in Atlanta and Friday in Los Angeles, the Nationals saw multiple positives from their offense on Saturday. Juan Soto hit his first two home runs of the season, while Ryan Zimmerman and Jordy Mercer each had three hits.

For Zimmerman, it was his first three-hit game since late in the 2019 season as he opted out of the 2020 season. Mercer's three-hit offering came in his season debut, delayed because of COVID-19 protocols.

--Field Level Media

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