Photo: John Amis (AP)

It will mean absolutely nothing to you to be told that Max Scherzer was a key contributor in a narrow Nationals win over the Atlanta Braves Saturday night. No shit, he’s their best pitcher and their best player, you are saying to an indifferent computer screen, like a true online psycho. Oh ho! This is no ordinary Scherzer performance!

Scherzer didn’t start for the Nats on Saturday, nor did he throw a single pitch. Gio Gonzalez started, and was excellent, but so was Braves pitcher Brandon McCarthy, and neither offense could really get going, and the game wound up in extras. Can you see where this is going?

Base hit! It wasn’t a mighty swing, and the ball meandered through the infield with all the urgency of an old Basset Hound, but Scherzer’s grounder pumped up his teammates and wound up generating the go-ahead run. The Nats ran through 20 different players against the Braves, and by the 14th inning manager Dave Martinez had used nearly every available and healthy position player. Sensing just this sort of predicament earlier in the night, Martinez had warned Scherzer that he might be called upon for one reason or another. Scherzer, a true baseball psycho, is the rare pitcher who has a refined and multi-phase hitting routine, which he reportedly launched into with characteristic intensity once it looked like he might actually be needed at the plate.

The result was his first ever pinch hit, and the winning run. Scherzer is possibly the most intense competitor in all of baseball, so it’s rare and precious to see him cheesing this openly while the adrenaline of a game is still coursing through his system:

Scherzer is no Shohei Ohtani—by his own admission he’s got “a high school swing”—but he approaches his plate appearances with the same white-hot intensity that he brings to every harrowing Martinez mound visit, and he’s been a relatively reliable batsman in his time in the National League. The pinch-hit single was his ninth hit of the season—his career high is 15, collected back in 2015 in his first year in Washington—and Scherzer is now hitting a cool .310 in 30 plate appearances in 2018. Martinez should do this regularly, if only to get his terrifying ace grinning like a delighted child more often.