MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Scherzer caps 1st half with fitting flourish

Only Jones' second homer kept Nats' ace from finishing fourth CG in six starts

Scherzer caps 1st half with fitting flourish

BALTIMORE -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer dominated in a 3-2 victory over the Orioles on Sunday afternoon. Yes, Adam Jones hit two solo homers, but the Orioles were clearly overmatched.

Scherzer pitched 8 2/3 innings, allowed two runs on four hits and struck out seven. If there is any way to describe Scherzer the pitcher this year, he is a control freak. In fact, he hasn't walked a batter since June 14 against the Brewers. That's a total of five starts.

"I was executing pitches. It started with no walks. It allows you to pitch efficiently, pitch deep in the games, and that can always help the ballclub," Scherzer said. "So I'm proud of that. Willie [catcher Wilson Ramos] did a great job back there of knowing when to sequence stuff. I did a good job executing all my pitches when I needed to."

Jones' two-homer game

Scherzer did whatever he wanted for the most part. In the first five innings, Scherzer retired 15 of the first 16 hitters he faced, with Jones going deep in the first. After Scherzer allowed Jones' second homer in the ninth, Nationals manager Matt Williams decided to take Scherzer out in favor of closer Drew Storen, who picked up his 27th save.

Storen earns save

"Scherzer's got so many ways to get you out," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He kind of invents different shapes to his breaking ball. He'll two-seam and four-seam a ball. He got bored a little bit, I think, the fourth or fifth inning and broke out the changeup a little bit."

Scherzer threw 115 pitches but felt he could have finished his fourth complete game in six starts. He said he is built for 110 pitches, but can go as far as 120. It takes a lot of work in between starts to reach that amount of pitches, but he does it consistently.

"I was good. I felt strong. I was ready to go as long as I could," Scherzer said. "Skip made that decision to go with Storen there, once Jones hit the home run. I felt stronger even in the ninth."

Scherzer was incredible during the first half, going 10-7 with a 2.11 ERA and 150 strikeouts, which is second in the National League. As amazing as he has been on the mound, Scherzer feels there are improvements he can make.

"Just little execution things, a little consistency," Scherzer said. "Even when you do have large workloads, you stay consistent. … I've done some good things in the first half. It's more important to do better things in the second half, because that's when it's going to matter."

Scherzer now heads to Cincinnati to enjoy the All-Star festivities. He will not pitch in the game because he doesn't want to throw on short rest.

"I won't be pitching, but I'll be having fun in Cincinnati," Scherzer said. "It's a great experience even if I'm not pitching. It's good to be a part [of the NL]. I'll be in the clubhouse. It's a really special thing."

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.