The Washington Nationals lost five of their last six games coming into Wednesday’s contest, but Max Scherzer wasn’t about to let them lose another. All the dominant right-hander did was tie a major league record with 20 strikeouts in one game as he led Washington to the 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Here is a look at Scherzer’s final stat line:

Scherzer joined Roger Clemens, Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers in baseball history to strike out 20 batters in a nine-inning start, as MLB highlighted:

Clemens did it twice for the Boston Red Sox (1986 and 1996), Wood did it in 1998 for the Chicago Cubs and Johnson did it for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001, per Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated. Scherzer was particularly efficient during his outing Wednesday, as ESPN Stats & Info and Jayson Stark of pointed out:  

One of those record holders gave a shoutout to the newest member of the 20-strikeout club:

Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet noted making history is business as usual for the Nationals pitcher:

Will Brinson of CBS Sports said Scherzer’s latest feat is even more extraordinary than a no-no:

Scherzer was already making history through eight innings, as Mitch Goldich of Sports Illustrated realized, citing numbers from

The Nationals were struggling to keep up with the math: 

Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell located the few guys in the stadium Scherzer didn’t retire on strikes:

While he was incredible against his former team at Nationals Park on Wednesday, Scherzer had struggled some in 2016 coming into the start. He was sporting a 4.60 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 46 strikeouts in 43 innings before the 20-strikeout effort, and there was perhaps some concern about how the 31-year-old was responding after he threw a career-high 228.2 innings last season.

He was also coming off an abysmal performance against the Chicago Cubs on Friday, when he allowed seven earned runs and four home runs in five innings. However, on Wednesday he appeared to find his old stuff that had resulted in an ERA of 2.90, 3.15 and 2.79 in the last three years, respectively.

Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports implied the turnaround was bound to happen eventually:

Scherzer has been a dominant strikeout pitcher for most of his career, and he’s tallied more than 200 in each of the last four campaigns:

He received some help Wednesday from Danny Espinosa, who drilled a solo home run in the seventh inning. It proved to be the difference, as the Tigers scored in the top of the ninth to trim the deficit to a single run.

Despite their recent struggles, the Nationals were 20-13 coming into play Wednesday and only one game behind the New York Mets in the loss column in the National League East. If Scherzer continues to pitch like he did Wednesday, he could lead Washington back to the postseason after it missed out in 2015.


Postgame Reaction

While Wood offered his congratulations on Twitter, Clemens responded after the game, per Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Haven’t seen it, but fantastic.”

Mark Zuckerman of noted “Scherzer took particular pride in doing this [versus the] Tigers” and shared the pitcher’s takeaway: “Those are tremendous hitters. This is for real.”

Nationals manager Dusty Baker echoed that, per Chris Iott of“That was the best performance I’ve seen in person. … He wanted it. You could tell he was psyched before the game against his former teammates.”

Tigers slugger J.D. Martinez was asked what it is like being behind in the count against Scherzer, per Jason Beck of “It’s like a horror film. He’s got three pitches that can put you away.”

Scherzer summarized his outing, per Katie Strang of ESPN: “Strikeouts are sexy. To strike out 20, that’s sexy.”

It’s hard to argue with that.

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