Joy quickly turned into concern for the Washington Nationals and star pitcher Max Scherzer on Tuesday night. The reigning National League Cy Young award winner hit his first career home run only to be pulled from the game with neck spasms minutes later.
After tossing a hitless first inning, Scherzer came to bat with two on and one out in the top of the second and proceeded to mash a three-run shot to left field. It was his first major-league home run in 308 at-bats. Scherzer rounded the bases with a huge smile on his face and high-fived his teammates upon his return to the dugout.
But shortly after, he started grimacing.
— Jake Russell (@_JakeRussell) August 1, 2017
The Nationals added two more runs on a Howie Kendrick home run, and Scherzer went back to the mound with a 6-0 lead. But his first warm-up pitch bounced short, and several feet left of catcher Matt Weiters. Scherzer motioned to the dugout and told manager Dusty Baker that he couldn’t continue, and Matt Grace replaced Scherzer immediately thereafter.
During the bottom of the third, it was reported that Scherzer was suffering from neck spasms and took himself out as a precaution. MASN’s Mark Zuckerman was on it first:
Per #Nats spokesperson: Scherzer had a neck spasm, said he "slept on it funny." Came out of the game as a precaution.
— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) August 2, 2017
That the injury doesn’t seem to be too serious is a huge relief for the Nationals. The team has already lost fellow starter Joe Ross for the season due to Tommy John surgery, and Stephen Strasburg is currently on the DL.
Scherzer is a strong contender to defend his Cy Young crown, having posted a 2.21 ERA so far this season. He leads all MLB pitchers in WAR and WHIP and is second in strikeouts.