It was a roller coaster night for Cy Young Award and MVP candidate Max Scherzer.
The Wasington Nationals’ ace smacked his first career home run in the first inning of a 7-6 loss to the Miami Marlins but would eventually leave the game with what the team is classifying as neck spasms.
“I couldn’t pull my head out, I had to stay locked in,” Scherzer said. “That actually gave me a better swing. That’s the reason why I hit a home run.”
Scherzer said he slept on his neck wrong a couple of days ago and left for precautionary reasons.
“They’ve been working on it,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “Then the spasm was back again.”
“I’ve had this pop up before,” Scherzer said (h/t ESPN).
“Use different pillows sometimes, it can just put a crick in your neck. And that’s what happened. You do anything you can before a game to try to loosen it up. Went out there and warmed up OK, at least to start up the game. Kind of hurt myself turning left. First inning I could tell I wasn’t right. Hard for me to pick up the target.
“When I went out in the second I could tell it had tightened up even more,” Scherzer added. “When I felt that, I knew it was time to pull the chute.”
Scherzer’s exit gave the Marlins, down 6-0 at the time, the chance to climb back to win, which they did.
“Losing him early gives you hope that you can get back in a little bit,” Miami manager Don Mattingly said. “Not that you can’t do it with him, but the chances aren’t very good.”
Baker talked about his initial reaction when Scherzer got hurt.
“He didn’t wait for us to get there,” Baker said. “Our trainer came over and said they had been working on him and it had subsided. Then you pop your neck swinging and throwing. The way he threw that ball wild you knew something was wrong. Then he kind of walked out and we’re just glad it wasn’t his arm because his arm has been throwing great.”