Yan Gomes hit a decisive two-run homer in the seventh inning for Washington, which faces a COVID-19 outbreak that forced Wednesday night’s game in Philadelphia to be postponed. Ahead of the game, the searing Nationals traded Brad Hand for the Toronto Blue Jays, and there are plenty of teams up for grabs who would love to have Mad Max for the final two months of the season.
Scherzer (8-4) gave JT Realmuto a homer in the fourth inning while striking out five and walking three on 88 shots. Kyle Finnegan stepped into the role of the closest and struck out two in the seventh for his first career save.
As Scherzer received handshakes in the Washington dugout in the start of the seventh, Gerardo Parra passed dive center outfielder Odubel Herrera and Gomes – who was reinstated from the 10-day injured list before the game – punched a Zack Wheeler lead in the trees beyond the center field fence for his ninth homer of the season.
Wheeler (8-6) went the distance in the seven innings, allowing seven hits, two walks and five strikeouts on 100 shots.
Scherzer – a three-time Cy Young Award winner and a mainstay of Washington’s 2019 World Series winning team – will become a free agent at the end of the season. The Nationals fell out of favor in eastern NL with a 6-16 record this month, making Scherzer by far the best starting pitcher in the market before Friday’s trade deadline.
Scherzer had only made one start since the start of the All-Star Game and was wiped out in his last outing with strain in his right triceps. While players in trade negotiations are often rested to avoid injury, Scherzer still took the ball – and he was in great shape, shifting gears and inducing soft contact.
“I told him to do what he does best, which is compete and not worry about a thing,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said ahead of the game. “He’s going to go throw. He wants to pitch and compete. “
Another Washington staff member tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday morning, which means the Nationals outbreak has affected 13 people – four players and nine staff.
Ahead of the game, Washington placed SS All-Star Trea Turner, RHP Daniel Hudson, C Alex Avila and RHP Austin Voth on the COVID-19 injured list. Turner was the first player to test positive and was taken out of Tuesday night’s game in the first inning.
Five Martinez coaching staff – bench coach Tim Bogar, pitching coach Jim Hickey, first baseman Randy Knorr, third baseman Bob Henley and assistant batting coach Pat Roessler – Weren’t available Thursday due to COVID-19 protocols.
Major League Baseball allowed Thursday’s doubles program to continue after morning tests found no infections among active players, Martinez said in his morning Zoom session with reporters.
Martinez said none of the cases were “too serious” and only the person who tested positive was not vaccinated.
“Thank goodness most of us or all of us are vaccinated,” Martinez said. “I can’t imagine going through this without being vaccinated. I want to be clear, (the vaccine) helps. “
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg underwent surgery on Wednesday to treat neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome. The 2019 World Series MVP will be missed the rest of the season, but should be in good health for the start of spring training next year.
Phillies: Placed C Andrew Knapp on the paternity list and recalled C Rafael Marcand from Double-A Reading.
Nationals: Return home to welcome the Chicago Cubs on Friday. Washington did not announce Friday’s starting pitcher.
Phillies: Start a seven game trip Friday in Pittsburgh. RHP Aaron Nola (7-6, 4.35 ERA) will face RHP Wil Crowe (2-5, 5.89).