MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Scherzer able to work out of jam in dominant start

Nationals Opening Day starter strikes out nine Cardinals, including clutch K's in tricky fifth

Scherzer able to work out of jam in dominant start

JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer was dominating in a 1-0 loss to the Cardinals on Wednesday afternoon.

Scherzer pitched six shutout innings, allowing three hits and striking out nine. The only time he was in trouble was in the fifth inning. After Yadier Molina singled with one out and Jon Jay followed with a double, Scherzer struck out Kolten Wong and Michael Wacha to end the threat.

Scherzer felt he did a good job generating swings and misses with all of his pitches. The most important thing was that he didn't walk anybody, although he hit Matt Carpenter with a pitch in the first inning. Scherzer fell behind in the count with only two hitters, and that told him that he is pounding the zone.

Carpenter hit by pitch

"Where I really got my work in, I got in a jam in the fifth. I had to go back and dig out of it, and I had to go back out for the sixth and got the pitch count up," Scherzer said. "I got a lot out of it from the physical standpoint."

Scherzer also talked about how he is starting to get on the same page with catcher Jose Lobaton, who has caught the right-hander twice this spring.

"There are certain times when I'm thinking about a certain pitch I want to throw and he is calling it," Scherzer said. "It takes more than that -- getting on the same page, seeing what we both like. ... Once we get our scouting reports, when we really start digging into all the numbers, we will get on the same page even more."

Scherzer is expected to have one more start during Spring Training before starting Opening Day on April 6 against the Mets at Nationals Park. He hopes to get up to 95 pitches in that final exhibition start.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.