- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

There was a sense of frustration in the Washington Nationals clubhouse Monday night. It wasn’t simply that they had lost on Opening Day, 3-1, but that they had squandered Max Scherzer’s stellar debut.

In his first start with the Nationals, Scherzer didn’t allow an earned run in 7 2/3 innings of work, carried a no-hitter into the sixth and at one point retired 17 hitters in a row. He allowed four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts, and he threw 71 of his 97 pitches for strikes.

“He was really good,” manager Matt Williams said. “As advertised.”

Scherzer signed a seven-year, $210 million contract with the Nationals in January, making him the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in the history of the sport. That contract, and the lofty expectations that come with it, will likely follow the 2013 American League Cy Young award winner for the rest of his career.

On Monday, however, Scherzer embraced that pressure, and the pageantry surrounding the first Opening Day start of his major-league career. He was a mixture of nerves and energy.

“My adrenaline was flowing. Let’s just say that,” Scherzer said.

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Catcher Wilson Ramos used a different description: crazy.

“Today I saw everything different [than spring training],” Ramos said. “That was amazing to be behind the plate with that guy on the mound. He was excited. He was crazy all game. That guy’s got too much energy. He was walking around the dugout. That’s good. I like that.”

Scherzer walked his first batter and labored through a 20-pitch first inning before settling down. He peppered the strike zone with fastballs, resulting in strikeouts or quick contact, while twice running through the New York Mets’ lineup.

Ramos said he and Scherzer were on the same page all afternoon, and their chemistry will only improve as they spend more starts together.

“He’s an experienced guy. He knows how to throw. That’s very important,” Ramos said. “After he walked one guy, he was aggressive all game with the other hitters. We was on the same page. He didn’t shake me off too much. That’s very important for me. I was working great behind the plate with him. [We’ll] see what happens next start.”

Scherzer’s only hiccups were preceded by fielding miscues. In the sixth inning, Ian Desmond unwisely called off Dan Uggla in shallow center field, allowing a pop fly to drop between them. Lucas Duda hit a two-run single in the next at-bat.

In the seventh, Desmond skipped a throw to first base that Ryan Zimmerman could not handle. In the next at-bat, Travis d’Arnaud lined a triple off the wall, past outstretched center fielder Michael Taylor, for a triple.

None of Scherzer’s three runs were earned. But after the game, he focused only on his mistakes: the two-out walk before Desmond’s first error and the pitch to Duda among them.

“I also put myself in that situation,” Scherzer said of Desmond’s error. “I mean, a two-out walk on four pitches. That’s part of my undoing as well and sometimes you got to just tip your hat. I threw a good pitch on Duda there and he made a great swing on it so sometimes you got to just tip your cap.”

Monday’s season-opener was the first start of many for Scherzer in a Nationals uniform, and he left a positive first impression.

“That was really impressive,” Desmond said. “He is what he is. He’s a Cy Young winner.”

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