- - Tuesday, March 13, 2018

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. – A no-hitter in spring training or a pitcher striking out 10 batters in a March exhibition game is almost unheard of.

But then again, pitchers like Nationals ace Max Scherzer don’t come along too often. He didn’t achieve either feat Tuesday night, but he certainly appeared to be in midseason form.

Scherzer, 33, went five innings and allowed just one hit and no runs while striking out nine with one walk in a 7-4 win over a split-squad New York Mets team.

The only hit he gave up was a double to Mets shortstop Ahmed Rosario in the fourth inning. The Mets’ lineup included some big league veterans, such as Juan Lagares, former Nationals infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Wilmer Flores and former Washington outfielder Matt den Dekker.

Scherzer’s command was impressive as he threw 76 pitches, 55 for strikes.

“I wanted to go out there tonight and attack (with) all the pitches. I felt I was able to do that,” Scherzer said. “I am refining everything.”

Scherzer was glad to work again with slimmed-down catcher Matt Wieters.

“We were picking up right where we left off last year,” Scherzer said.

It was the fourth outing of the spring for Scherzer, who has now fanned 21 batters in 14 innings, while allowing just three hits and two earned runs. Scherzer won his second National League Cy Young Award last year with Washington as he went 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA in 31 starts and struck out 268 batters in 200.2 innings.

Scherzer, 33, also was part of the batting lineup for the first time this spring with the Nationals. He was 0-for-2 with a strikeout and groundout.

“I just need to get in the box. I need to see pitches,” said Scherzer, who called himself a “marginal” hitter.

The Nationals are off Wednesday and return to action Thursday when they host the Houston Astros at 1 p.m. Washington and Houston share the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches complex.

Lefty Tommy Milone is slated to start for the Nationals on Thursday. He is a non-roster spring training invitee by Washington.

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