MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Early jam helps Scherzer prepare for season

Right-hander gets out of trouble in first inning of start vs. Astros

Early jam helps Scherzer prepare for season

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer was scheduled to pitch three innings on Tuesday afternoon, but he ended up throwing only two in a 4-2 victory over the Astros at Osceola County Stadium, as the ace was tested by Houston in the first.

Scherzer threw 51 pitches in the game, with 37 coming in the first inning. However, only one run scored in that frame, on a Colby Rasmus single. Scherzer allowed three singles and a walk, and A.J. Reed had a 13-pitch at-bat with the bases loaded. Reed ended up grounding to third baseman Jason Martinson, who got the force out at the plate. Scherzer then struck out Jon Singleton to end the frame.

Spring Training: Schedule | Tickets | Gear

"It wasn't as efficient as I would like. I would have liked to have gone three innings," Scherzer said. "The good thing is, I was able to pitch out of a jam. When you get into high-count situations, have guys that are battling you and you have to execute some pitches in a bases-loaded situation, that's stuff that gets you ready for the season. Even though you might not have liked the results, this stuff prepared me as much as anything."

After Scherzer got out of the first, he received a pat on the back from manager Dusty Baker.

"[The Astros] took a whole inning off of him," Baker said. "He got out of that inning, [almost] unscathed. He threw 37 pitches with only one run. That usually doesn't happen. He threw great."

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.