The battle scar is still noticeable -- a shiner under his right eye -- but Max Scherzer is not about to skip turns in the rotation.
Scherzer took the mound for his scheduled start on June 19, a day after the Washington Nationals ace broke his nose during a pregame bunting drill. Despite the freshness of the injury, Scherzer pitched seven shutout innings and won his fourth consecutive start to lead the Nationals to a 2-0 home victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Scherzer (6-5, 2.62 ERA) will look to extend his unbeaten June on Tuesday night when he starts the opener of Washington's three-game series at Miami.
"This thing looks a lot worse than it actually feels," Scherzer said of the injury following his outing against the Phillies. "I felt zero pain.
"This is part of what you've got to do -- take the ball every fifth time. That's my responsibility to the team. It's just going out there and doing my job."
And Scherzer is doing his customary job recently.
After falling to 2-5 following a home loss against the Chicago Cubs on May 17, Scherzer has allowed four runs in his past six starts. The three-time Cy Young Award winner's ERA has dropped a full run to 2.62.
Scherzer is 12-4 (3.20 ERA) against the Marlins in his career. However, Scherzer struggled in Miami on April 20, yielding a season-high seven runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings.
The Nationals' season-best five-game winning streak ended with consecutive home losses to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday and Sunday. In Saturday's game, Washington relievers allowed nine runs in the final three innings as the Braves rallied from an 8-4 deficit and won 13-9.
Reliever Trevor Rosenthal became a casualty of Saturday's bullpen meltdown. An offseason free agent acquisition, Rosenthal walked the three hitters he faced Saturday and was released Sunday. In 12 appearances with the Nationals, Rosenthal had a 22.74 ERA.
"Just at this point in time, he put the work in, we put the work in, we tried to get him right and just things didn't work out," manager Dave Martinez said of Rosenthal in The Washington Times. "It was time for us to move on."
Miami opens a six-game homestand after another successful road trip. The visiting Marlins swept a three-game series Sunday at Philadelphia and began their trip splitting four games at St. Louis.
Marlins right-hander Trevor Richards (3-7, 3.54) will face the Nationals on Tuesday. Richards lost his first outing of the season against Washington, allowing three runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings on April 21. The loss is Richards' only decision against the Nationals in his two-year career (0-1, 3.86 ERA).
The Marlins are 20-15 after a 10-31 start and have won their past three road trips but have struggled at home. Following series wins at San Diego and Milwaukee in their previous road trip, the Marlins returned home and won only two of nine against Atlanta, St. Louis and Pittsburgh.
"We have to stay focused because we are going home and we know we haven't been playing very good at home," Miami shortstop Miguel Rojas said. "We're looking forward to protect our ballpark."
Miami first baseman-outfielder Garrett Cooper went 3-for-5 with a home run and extended his hitting streak to 14 on Sunday. Cooper hit .444 on the road trip.
"The guys have kept playing," Miami manager Don Mattingly said. "I think that's one of the things you want to see with a club that started the year like we have. We knew we were young. We know we're still in the build. You just want to see improvement. You're hoping you get better and better as the season goes along."
--Field Level Media