MLB

'Greatness' at work as Dodgers star Scherzer hits strikeout milestone, just misses perfect game

By Sports Desk September 12, 2021

Max Scherzer came close to throwing the 24th perfect game in MLB history on Sunday but had to settle for a milestone even more difficult to achieve. 

Los Angeles Dodgers star Scherzer became the 19th pitcher to reach 3,000 career strikeouts, hitting the magic number in the fifth inning of the World Series champions' 8-0 rout of the San Diego Padres. 

The man he struck out to reach that mark, Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer, was the only San Diego player to reach base. His one-out double to right field in the eighth ended Scherzer's bid to join the legendary Sandy Koufax as the only Dodgers to throw a perfect game. 

Scherzer was making just his eighth start for the storied franchise after arriving from the Washington Nationals in a trade at the end of July.

It is fair to say his new team is even more impressed than they were when they had to face him in previous years. 

"Obviously you see him from afar, dominating," Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts told reporters. "You face him a couple of times, he goes seven, eight innings every single time. But just to be playing behind him is so much more fun. I mean it’s just kind of amazing to watch greatness."

Though Scherzer has now allowed just a lone unearned run over his last four starts, he has rarely been as dominant as he was against the Padres.

Knowing he needed six strikeouts to reach 3,000, the right-handed ace fanned two batters in the first before producing an "immaculate inning" in the second – striking out all three men he faced on the minimum nine pitches. 

That put him one away from the mark and he finally got it in the fifth when Hosmer swung through a 3-2 changeup. 

"It's hard to describe the emotions of it," Scherzer said. "It’s an awesome achievement, awesome milestone. Not that many people have reached this milestone. ...

"I love strikeouts and to me this is a testament to durability to me going out there every single time, making my 30-plus starts a year, year in, year out.

"Everybody can have the ability to do this. But few have the durability to do this."

And only one player has reached 3,000 in fewer innings than Scherzer's 2,516: Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, who did it in 2,470.2 innings. 

Scherzer started at least 30 games every year from 2009-2018 for the Nationals and Detroit Tigers, winning three Cy Young Awards in the process. 

His performance since moving to Los Angeles may well earn him a fourth this season, particularly if he keeps it up in the closing weeks as the Dodgers try to chase down the San Francisco Giants in the National League (NL) West. 

"I just can't imagine anyone being any better than this, especially with where we're at in the season," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

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