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Game 69: Pirates at Nats

Jun 20, 2015, 12:11 PM EDT

Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER

UPDATE: Yunel Escobar is a late scratch with a stomach bug for today’s game. Ian Desmond is back in there after originally being out.

After rookie Joe Ross dominated the Pirates in the series opener on Friday night, Max Scherzer (7-5, 1.93) will now take his turn in his 14th start of the season.

And he’ll pitch with Bryce Harper back in the outfield behind him. Harper will make his return for the Nats after leaving Thursday’s game and missing Friday night’s win with a left hamstring strain.

Scherzer pitched one of the best games in recent baseball history his last time out when he shut the Brewers out through nine innings with 16 strikeouts and just one hit and one walk allowed. Scherzer last faced the Pirates on Aug. 14 of last year when he was with the Tigers. He threw eight shutout innings and took the win.

Lefty Francisco Liriano (4-5, 2.94) will take the mound for Pittsburgh. He was also brilliant in his most recent start with eight scoreless innings against the White Sox.

Updates to come, so please check back…

Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, Ch. 9,
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183
Weather: Chance of thunderstorms, 87 degrees, Wind 9 mph LF to RF

CF Denard Span
2B Anthony Rendon
3B Yunel Escobar
RF Bryce Harper
C Wilson Ramos
SS Danny Espinosa
1B Tyler Moore
SS Ian Desmond
LF Michael Taylor
RHP Max Scherzer

PIRATES (39-28)
2B Josh Harrison
LF Starling Martin
CF Andrew McCutchen
3B Jung Ho Kang
C Francisco Cervelli
1B Pedro Alvarez
RF Gregory Polanco
SS Jordy Mercer
LHP Francisco Liriano

HP Mike Muchlinski
1B Sean Barber
2B Mark Wegner
3B Mike Winters (cc)

4:18 p.m. — It’s a 0-0 game after one. Scherzer got out of the first inning on just six pitches. Liriano through only eight in the bottom of the inning, but did allow an infield single to Span. Harper ran all the way to the warning track on defense to catch a Marte flyball. He then popped out to the shortstop in his first at-bat.

4:35 p.m. — Still no score after two innings. The Pirates went down 1-2-3, as Scherzer is now through two on just 14 pitches. Moore walked, but that was it for the Nats. Liriano is at 29 pitches.

4:47 p.m. — No runs to report on through three innings here. Scherzer, however, is having himself a pretty decent afternoon. He’s retired all nine batters so far on just 25 pitches. But Liriano is also pitching well, so this game is locked and nothing-nothing.

5:03 p.m. — He’s baaaaaack. Harper broke the scoreless tie with a bomb of a homer to straightaway center off Liriano. It was Harper’s 23rd of the 2015 season and set a new career-high. The Nats now lead 1-0 as Scherzer goes back out there for the fourth inning. He has retired all 12 batters he’s faced so far on 42 pitches.

5:17 p.m. — It is still 1-0 after neither team scored in the fifth. The Pirates once again failed to get a baserunner against Scherzer. He has retired all 15 batters he’s faced on 54 pitches through five innings of work. Liriano is also continuing to pitch well and has thrown 62 so far.

5:51 p.m. — The Nats added four runs in the sixth inning to make it a 5-0 game and give Scherzer some breathing room. The first one came on an RBI double by Rendon and the second on a single by Harper. Moore then brought home the third and fourth runs on a single to center. That bounced Liriano from the game, as right-hander Rob Scahill took over. On to the seventh we go, as Scherzer looks to keep the Pirates off the basepaths.

6:06 p.m. — The Nationals added another run in the bottom of the seventh to make it a 6-0 game. Taylor scored on a wild pitch with Rendon at the plate after leading off with a double. Scherzer has retired all 21 batters so far. He goes back out for the eighth with just 77 pitches on the day. If you’re reading this and not watching, get to a television now!

6:20 p.m. — Here we go. On to the top of the ninth!

6:29 p.m. — Unbelievable. Scherzer gets the no-hitter, but falls one pitch short of a perfect game after hitting Tabata with a runaway slider. Nats win 6-0. This is the second no-hitter in Nationals team history.

  1. rlndtln - Jun 20, 2015 at 12:15 PM

    How will MW line up against lefty without Bryce.Might need to play Desi at ss and TMO in right.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 20, 2015 at 12:42 PM

      Harp plays.

  2. unterp - Jun 20, 2015 at 12:24 PM

    maybe Harper plays today…

  3. Doc - Jun 20, 2015 at 12:34 PM

    Good to see TyMo against the lefty.

  4. natsjackinfl - Jun 20, 2015 at 12:37 PM

    I’m loving this new lineup with head cheerleader Desmond anchoring the reserves.

    I thought for sure that with a lefty pitching there would be no way Desmond sat 2 days in a row.

    Harper back in the lineup concerns me a little. Hamstrings are touchy.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:21 PM

      The botched doubleplay on JZim’s start was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

      • IsawTeddywin - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:02 PM

        No, that’s absurd, that was no big deal, ball stuck in his glove, it happens.
        If Stras had been pitching, it would have generated 50 “mentally weak” posts.
        It’s the multiple missed chances since then that caused the sit down, desi really has been terrible last couple games

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:05 PM

        That led to the runner scoring on 3rd only on that play. JZim didn’t allow any other runners to score that inning but it made the score 3-0.

      • Jfmii - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:47 PM

        They gave Forsythe a hit on what seemed like a dp ball in the 4-run 6th Thursday. That looked and felt like a critical error

      • scmargenau - Jun 20, 2015 at 8:25 PM

        Wrong teddy – he actually caught the ball, he lost it in transfer.

  5. David Proctor - Jun 20, 2015 at 12:51 PM

    I’ll be very interested to see how Harper’s swing looks. If he can put all his weight on that back leg. The night after the HBP, he was clearly favoring it and his swing was disjointed. The next night, he was better and it looked a lot better.

    I would have given him the series off. You have the tough lefty Liriano today (not that lefties have bothered Harper much), then a day game tomorrow and an off day. Giving him this series off would’ve given him four full days.

    But if he can play unhampered, there’s no reason to hold him back. I’m just skeptical he can actually do that.

  6. dcwx61 - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:09 PM

    would have given harper off given tomorrow will likely be rained out

    • masterfishkeeper - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:29 PM

      I think the rain will be gone by game time tomorrow. Don’t know if they’ll get a full game in tonight, however.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:36 PM

        Looks like forecast is for a line of storms to move thru 5-6pm, and then clear for a couple of hours after that before real deluge begins.

      • dcwx61 - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:15 PM

        another reason not to play him…wet grounds can’t be good for a day old pulled hamstring

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:26 PM

        Will be interesting to see. If there is rain delay, maybe they sit him at that point.

      • dcwx61 - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:27 PM

        i think they’ll get the game in this afternoon evening but will be close.
        but what do i know, look at the NWS models (see link below)

        I don’t see any rain until after 7 pm (e.g.: 2300 UTC) so the game will go on.

        but boy will it rain tonight with the remnants of TS bill come by along around midnight:
        Hope they get the field in shape by the father’s day game.
        But I guess that’s why they schedule them….you don’t need

        For your short term forecast, always look at the radar and check out the new HRRR model predictions
        it has the first line coming thru after 8 PM tonight

      • dcwx61 - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:29 PM

        i should have said
        the game should go on
        not will go on
        I should know better
        but enuf shoulds out of me

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:59 PM

        Thanks! I take it from your handle that weather is an area of expertise/interest?

    • dcwx61 - Jun 20, 2015 at 3:01 PM

      I was trained in it. but I do the computer weather models. Real forecasters don’t trust us 😉

      • Section 222 - Jun 21, 2015 at 12:05 AM

        Is that the scouts not trusting the SABR guys in the front office? 🙂

      • dcwx61 - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:33 AM

        Exactly….We are a bunch of numbers…But they are in the front line

  7. Danny - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:25 PM

    AJ Cole with another poor start at Syracuse. Just isn’t getting enough Ks. Would like him to up his stock by the deadline.

  8. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:33 PM

    @masncj: Matt Williams on Joe Ross: “He’s opened eyes…seriously opened eyes.” Not entertaining idea of 6-man rotation. #Nats”

    There’s options if they can trade Gio. If not, probably back to AA.

    • Bruxtun - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:37 PM

      I’ve also felt like Gio is the most tradable pitcher right now. Leaves some uncertainty for the future, but I trust Rizzo to deal with that hole if/when it comes up.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:41 PM

        You re-sign JZim is my feeling. Gio is tradeable. Then you have for 2016 Scherzer, JZim, Strasburg, Roark, Joe Ross.

        For 2017, Scherzer, JZim, Giolito, Roark Joe Cool.

        The rotation would be set for years.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:42 PM

      I have a tough time seeing them trade Gio at this point.

      I know he hasn’t pitched great this year, but that cuts both ways–what return will be bring? His career #s tell you he’s solid for the bottom of the rotation. He’s cost-controlled and their only left. Plus, the team still faces some uncertainty in the rotation this year with injuries, and uncertainty next year with like FA departures.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:43 PM

        I don’t think you trade Gio before you re-sign JZimm, at the very least, and I don’t see much chance for a mid-season extension.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:44 PM

        Exactly which is all reasons other teams will want him. You should be able to get Aroldis Chapman straight up.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:45 PM

        See my follow up comment tho.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:50 PM

        HH, gotcha. It would leave a hole for next year if you don’t extend JZim but I think if you can trade Gio for Aroldis you do it. I’m sure Rizzo would ask for Aroldis + a prospect. Better than giving up Reynaldo and prospects.

      • Bruxtun - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:59 PM

        Good points. For the record I don’t want to trade Gio because of his underwhelming performance so far this year, I like him and still think he has plenty left in the tank. Just think he’s the most tradable for the other reasons you mentioned.

  9. letswin3 - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:50 PM

    I completely understand how fragile athlete’s egos are (see Gio and Stras), but I would really like to see Ross get at least 3 or 4 more starts, if that could be accomplished without kicking anyone to the curb. Is Gio tradable? … I guess everyone is tradable if the price is right. If Gio were to be traded, and for some reason Ross proved to be a flash in the pan, we would still have Roark waiting in the wings … a risk I see as more than reasonable. Does Ross need another pitch … he probably does need a changeup, but he’s going through 3 and 4 turns of the batting order beautifully with only a FB and slider. I’m only half joking when I say that his biggest deficiency look to be laying down a solid bunt. Getting Pipped by this guy could be a distinction worth exploration.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 20, 2015 at 1:53 PM

      Joe has a changeup, it’s just not a “plus” pitch. I’m in touch with a scout I trust for his opinion who saw him yesterday but I haven’t heard back.

      • letswin3 - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:05 PM

        Would love to hear his opinion. Something else I thought about as I watched last night … Joe may possibly have a couple more “Scherzer type” pitches that he’s not using. By that I mean that Ross seemed to me to be avoiding pitching inside to hitters (maybe someone can round up the stats for him last night) … as opposed to Scherzer, who figures that he has 4 or 5 fastballs, if you consider stuff like up and in, up and away, down and in, down and away and up and down over the plate, all as different pitches. And if a pitcher can also throw all those fastballs at “fast” and “damned fast”, like Scherzer, his odds continue to escalate positively.

    • virginiascopist - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:12 PM

      ” If Gio were to be traded, and for some reason Ross proved to be a flash in the pan, we would still have Roark waiting in the wings”

      The problem with this, as I see it, is that if that were to come to pass — Gio being traded for Chapman, Ross not working out and Roark waiting in the wings — that still leaves Roark’s spot in the bullpen open. Chapman is not a long man, and neither is Janssen or Storen. In addition, what happens if, on top of that, Stras or Fister goes down?

      • letswin3 - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:40 PM

        I understand your concern for what would be a missing “designated long” reliever. My question is, how many times in the course of the remaining 93 games should we expect to need a long reliever? If, as I suspect, that need would be about 2 or 3 games, the balance of the BP could be “mixed and matched” for a couple of innings each to reach the 8th inning, when the regular 8th inning guys would come in. Alternatively, there must be at least one long reliever available from the minors. All-in-all, I think this might be a good opportunity to take that risk, in return for a starter who looks like the real deal, so far.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 20, 2015 at 3:04 PM

        Are you saying 2-3 more long relief appearances this season? That seems awfully low.

        Last year, with a kick-@ss rotation, Stammen still made 17 appearances of 2 or more innings, or an average of slightly more than 1 per every 10 games.

        So 9-10 seems a low estimate for the rest of this season, and you might well bump that up because of uncertainty with this year’s starting rotation.

  10. rlndtln - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:00 PM

    I really doubt they will resign JZIM.The real priority is to resign Denard.He is the key to our offense.

    • unkyd59 - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:38 PM

      Before the draft, I prolly would’ve gone along with signing Span, but there seems to be real outfield talent there, and the more youngsters you have under control the more financial freedom to meet unexpected challenges.

  11. Danny - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:37 PM

    Jakson Reetz, C made his debut for Auburn yesterday. 1-2 with 2 walks. Also threw out a steal attempt.

  12. letswin3 - Jun 20, 2015 at 2:52 PM

    With respect to signing Span to an extension, I suggest waiting until the offseason to explore that. Mr. Taylor has started to show some progress in his discipline at the plate (making more contact and laying off more breaking stuff), and his defense is already major league ready, with some room for improvement. If he’s not ready to move into the CF vacancy, after what looks to be many opportunities over the remainder of the season, then consider resigning Span or look to a myriad of offseason options.

  13. rlndtln - Jun 20, 2015 at 3:10 PM

    Denard is the key to our offense.Also he is a lefty which we lack terribly.

    • NatsLady - Jun 20, 2015 at 3:14 PM

      FWIW, Phil Wood agrees with you. He “doesn’t see how” the Nats could let Span leave.

      • Hiram Hover - Jun 20, 2015 at 3:22 PM

        Whole lotta love for Span in Nats-land.

        But I think if Rizzo follows his head, he doesn’t re-sign Span, fan sentiment be damned.

    • npb99 - Jun 20, 2015 at 4:56 PM

      Span is 31 and plays a speed position. He has really grown on me, but I think he’ll want a longer-term contract than Rizzo probably wants to give him.

  14. NatsLady - Jun 20, 2015 at 3:13 PM

    Speaking of outfield talent, look what happened to our 3rd round guy.

  15. stoatva - Jun 20, 2015 at 4:09 PM

    Six pitches.

    RU kidding me?

  16. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 20, 2015 at 4:09 PM

    Was there any official reason on why Desi wasn’t starting? Is it an official benching?

    I know he is back in the line up now that Yuni is out…

  17. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 20, 2015 at 4:10 PM

    MARK, I think you meant Starling Marte in left?

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 20, 2015 at 4:23 PM

      Sorry about that.

      But it’s still Marte, not Martin.

  18. Danny - Jun 20, 2015 at 4:13 PM

    Tony two outs lately

  19. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 20, 2015 at 4:14 PM

    Wonder how much longer Anthony will be in the 2 hole… clearly working his way back…

    • rlndtln - Jun 20, 2015 at 4:45 PM

      Maybe we can try some small ball today since 1or 2 runs may do it.Get a lead off hit like Span in the first and Maybe Rendon a bunt for a hit.Who knows it may work like the last 3 times we tried it.

      • rlndtln - Jun 20, 2015 at 4:58 PM


  20. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:06 PM

    Welcome back Bryce!

  21. Drew - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:08 PM

    22 to reach 100 at age 22.

    677 from Henry Aaron.

    • rlndtln - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:18 PM

      All you guys that think resigning Span is a question,just look at MT today.He is a long way from Denard.If we can Sign Denard to a 2 year deal,Taylor maybe ready then.In the meantime he can be the fourth outfielder and will play plenty the way we are always injured.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:03 PM

        I don’t even think it’s a debate. I hope like heck that we resign D Span…lol

  22. deftndumb - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:28 PM

    Golly, this Scherzer guy is pretty good. Let’s keep him. 😉

  23. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:28 PM

    Scherzer is cruising…. guess he needs to remind us how he does this every 5th day… Joe who? 😆😆😆

  24. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:34 PM

    Looks like MW listened to you RLN

  25. rlndtln - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:37 PM


  26. dcwx61 - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:42 PM

    yikes….what if we get a rain delay i hate to say

    • dcwx61 - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:43 PM

      i guess you play thru it
      like the priest in caddyshak

  27. dcwx61 - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:46 PM

    the line is about 30-40 minutes away….nats batters get an out

  28. TimDz - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:47 PM

    Best part about this rally is that Max made the first out and is just sitting in the dugout catching his breath….

  29. dcwx61 - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:54 PM

    oh my…..come on boys and girls…must see TV

  30. dcwx61 - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:55 PM

    oh my…..come on boys and girls…must see TV

  31. Tyler Babip - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:55 PM

    This is so awesome.

  32. 4thgendc - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:56 PM

    1-2-3 Scherzout!


  33. rlndtln - Jun 20, 2015 at 5:57 PM

    He should renegotiate his contract.What a bargain.Imagine him in game 1 of the playoffs.

  34. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:04 PM

    Wow Max…. just wow….

    • masterfishkeeper - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:08 PM

      Think how well Max would be pitching if only Lobaton were catching!

  35. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:07 PM

    Hold off, rain!!

  36. TimDz - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:13 PM

    Espi is to Max as Lombo is to Jordan.

  37. texnat1 - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:15 PM

    Scherzer can only get a max of 13 strikeouts in this game. Slacker.

  38. nickr26 - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:28 PM

    Woest possible way to lose a perfect game tataba basically bunted leaning into that pitch that’s disappointing

  39. Tyler Babip - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:29 PM


    • knoxvillenat - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:34 PM

      “…,as Lombo is to Jordan” ?

      Perhaps you mean Sousa?

  40. TimDz - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:34 PM

    Tabata bought one in the ribs next time up against the Nats…

  41. dcwx61 - Jun 20, 2015 at 6:37 PM


    TM Michelle





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