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D-backs lose on walk-off HR after Widener matches Scherzer

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Taylor Widener throws during the third inning of the team's baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Friday, April 16, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Maybe it was fitting that one bad pitch was the difference in a game where dozens of great ones were thrown.

The Arizona Diamondbacks and Washington Nationals had themselves a good ol’ pitchers duel on Friday night. The D-backs got six scoreless innings from Taylor Widener. The Nationals got seven scoreless innings from Max Scherzer.

Both bullpens combined to give up one baserunner through 4.1 innings of work. The 0.1 there is Alex Young’s for Arizona, who got three more outs on top of that to send down the first four hitters he had saw.

The fifth was Kyle Schwarber. Behind 2-1, Young let a sinker get away on the inside part of the plate up in the zone, and Schwarber absolutely destroyed it 463 feet into the stands to give the D-backs an unfortunate 1-0 loss.

Ultimately, the defeat should be looked at as a missed opportunity.

Widener was terrific, getting his season ERA down to 1.59. The second and third innings were the closest Widener got to trouble, and he forced groundouts with a runner on third and two outs in each situation.

Both of those emphasized a growing theme in Widener’s outings that he seems unfazed by those tight moments.

“I feel like I’ve always been pretty good at putting things past me that happened that are bad,” he said. “My dad used to always tell me the Italian race car driver: what’s in the past is in the past.”

No one would have blamed the 26-year-old Widener in his third career start for focusing in a bit on matching directly up against a pitcher like Scherzer, but he said he’s not wired that way.

“I pretty much keep it out of my thoughts,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do that’s gonna control what he does for the day so I just have to focus on their hitters. Obviously, he’s unreal, great pitcher, but I didn’t really think about it too much.”

Widener gave some of the credit to catcher Carson Kelly, who he was locked in with all game.

“There were multiple times whenever I had my mind deadset on a pitch and I was gonna shake until I got it and then Carson would put it down,” he said. “Being a pitcher, that’s the greatest feeling ever whenever you and your catcher are on the same page like we were tonight. Every time I was thinking something, he was a step ahead of me.”

Widener matched Scherzer in the run column, which is all that really matters. But while the Nationals tested Widener a few times, the D-backs didn’t make it difficult for one of the best in baseball.

After Kole Calhoun’s single in the first, Scherzer retired 13 straight D-backs hitters. He walked two batters in the fifth inning, but the second was with Widener on-deck, and Widener proceeded to strike out to end the inning.

Nick Ahmed’s single in the eighth was the only time a D-backs batter reached base off either Washington’s Daniel Hudson in the seventh or Brad Hand in the eighth.

Scherzer struck out 10 batters in seven innings, helping him pass Cy Young for 22nd on the all-time strikeout leaderboard.

The D-backs finished the game with only three hits and two walks on the night.

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