Scherzer K’s 20
Max Scherzer once again solidified himself as one of the better pitchers of his generation with his performance on Wednesday night as the Washington Nationals beat the Detroit Tigers 3-2.
Scherzer now joins the rarefied company of Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood, and Randy Johnson as players with 20-strikeout games in their career. His performance last night was absolutely legendary. Nine of Scherzer's 20 strikeouts came on just three pitches. His 33 swings-and-misses were the second most in the past 15 seasons; Clayton Kershaw had 35 last September. Perhaps the most staggering statistic is that Scherzer only threw 23 balls the entire night as his strike percentage was the highest ever for a 20-strikeout game (80.7%).
"I had everything left in the tank," he said. "When you have something like that going for it, you have all the fans up there, standing on their feet, making a lot of noise, that's all the adrenaline you need."
The last 20-strikeout game was by Randy Johnson on May 8th, 2001. In between Johnson and Scherzer's 20-K games, there have been 46 no-hitters. That goes to show just how rare of a feat 20 strikeouts actually is.
"To be able to punch out 20," Scherzer said, "it's sexy."
A former member of the Tigers pitching staff, Scherzer won the Cy Young Award in 2013 while with Detroit.
"Facing a former team and all those guys I have so much respect for and how they play the game and how they compete," he said. "I really think the world [of] how they go out there and play the game, and so to have a game like this against that caliber of hitters on their side, that really puts a feather in my cap."
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus has either played on or managed the losing team in three of the five 20-strikeout games (Wood, Clemens, Scherzer).
Tom Cheney of the Washington Senators struck out 21 batters, but in 16 innings in 1962...and with 228 pitches.
"I think this will be the only time I'll ever talk about giving up two home runs and I'll have this big a smile on my face," Scherzer said.
Scherzer now has a 20-strikeout game and two no-hitters. The only other pitcher to record those same statistics is Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. He also joins Nolan Ryan, Pedro Martinez, Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller, Johnson, and Clemens as the only pitchers in baseball history with multiple 17+ strikeout games.