NEW YORK -- As manager Dusty Baker put it after the Nationals were blanked by the Mets, 2-0, on Tuesday night at Citi Field, the home run ball has become a "nemesis" for right-hander Max Scherzer, who was solid for 6 1/3 innings and struck out 10 batters.
Two of the three hits Scherzer allowed proved to be lethal. In the first inning, Curtis Granderson swung at Scherzer's first pitch and hit a home run over the right-field wall. Scherzer had never before served up a homer on the first pitch of a game.
Two innings later, Michael Conforto clubbed his sixth home run of the season, a solo shot over the right-field wall. Scherzer tried to throw a cutter, but it went in the wrong direction. It was simply poor execution on Scherzer's part, he said.
Scherzer has allowed 49 hits this year, 13 of them home runs. That's the highest hit/home run ratio by a qualifying pitcher this season.
"The home runs have been his nemesis all year," Baker said. "If you give up two solo home runs against a lesser pitcher [than Mets starter Noah Syndergaard, who also fanned 10], you usually are not going to lose.
"At least you know he is throwing strikes, and [the opponents] know he's throwing strikes. I don't know what his history is in the past. Most of his home runs are solos. If you are going to give them up, that's how you are going to give them up. You can't win if the other team shuts you out."
Scherzer didn't seem to have an answer as to why he has allowed so many home runs during an otherwise typically impressive season, which included his historic 20-strikeout outing against the Tigers in his previous start.
"When you lose, it's frustrating, because you go back and you think how you can pitch better. At the end of the day, I pitched well, just not well enough," Scherzer said.
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 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.