Max Scherzer struck out 20 batters in the Washington Nationals’ 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night to match the major league record for a nine-inning game.

Nationals’ Max Scherzer Ties MLB Record With 20 Strikeouts

This is just one of the many accomplishments the right-handed pitcher has reached, along with throwing two no-hitters and coming within one strike of a perfect game, since signing a $210 million contract with the Nationals.

“There’s something about 20,” said Scherzer, 31, after Wednesday night’s game. “Tonight was an emotional game, facing a former team and all those guys I have so much respect for. And so to have a game like this against that caliber of hitter on their side, it really puts a feather in my cap.”

The game marked Scherzer’s first time pitching against the Tigers since he last played for them in 2014.

Scherzer (4-2) pitched two no-hitters for Washington last season and struck out 17 in the second one, thus joining Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson as the only major league pitchers to compile 20 strikeouts in nine innings. Johnson was the last to achieve the record for Arizona during a 2001 game that went 11 innings. Tom Cheney holds the major league record with 21 strikeouts when he pitched all 16 innings for the Washington Senators against Baltimore in 1962.

“I was thinking of all the different scenarios in an 0-2 count that I could do to be able to get that last strikeout,” the ace right-hander said.

After striking out the side in the eighth inning on Wednesday, all on called strikes, Scherzer was up to 18 on 106 pitches, with the Nationals holding a two-run lead. “I knew there was a lot,” manager Dusty Baker said.

The 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner gave up a leadoff homer to J.D. Martinez in the ninth, then blew a 97 mph fastball by slugger Miguel Cabrera for strikeout No. 19. Victor Martinez then singled for his third hit before Scherzer got another All-Star slugger, Justin Upton, swinging on a low slider to finally tie the record. This happened just one pitch after Upton’s foul pop landed just beyond the reach of first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and in a camera well.

“Had to go through some tough, tough hitters there with Miggy and J.D. and Victor and all those guys over there,” Scherzer said after being hugged and high-fived by several of his teammates. “Those guys are unbelievable and they gave me a heck of a time tonight.” Scherzer threw an astounding 96 of 119 pitches for strikes in a six-hitter for his sixth career complete game.

He also out-pitched Jordan Zimmermann (5-2), a former Nationals teammate who left Washington as a free agent for a $110 million deal with the Tigers prior to this season.

“That was one of the more dominant performances I’ve ever come across,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, also an opponent during Wood’s 20-strikeout game and one of the two compiled by Clemens. “It wasn’t quite as dominant as Kerry Wood and it was more dominant than Clemens.”

Scherzer’s great performance also comes after allowing seven runs on four homers in an 8-6 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

Zimmermann allowed three runs over seven innings in his return to Nationals Park. The right-hander received a standing ovation from the crowd of 35,695 when he stepped into the batter’s box after Iglesias’ homer.

The Nationals (21-13) are now second in the NL East.

PHOTO: WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 11: Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Nationals Park on May 11, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

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