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Scherzer’s no-no and Tabata’s HBP from Pirates’ perspective

Jun 20, 2015, 9:09 PM EST

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer reacts after hitting Pittsburgh Pirates pinch hitter Jose Tabata during the ninth inning of a baseball game at Nationals Park, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Washington. Scherzer threw a no-hitter and the Nationals won 6-0. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Max Scherzer was one strike away on Saturday afternoon from becoming just the 24th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to throw a perfect game. One strike was all he needed before an inside slider didn’t break and instead bounced of the elbow of a pinch-hitting Jose Tabata.

Tabata came off the Pirates’ bench to work a 2-2 count by fouling off five balls in an eight-pitch at-bat. Then Scherzer hit him and lost his perfect game before retiring the very next batter to secure his first no-hitter.

A no-hitter is a fantastic accomplishment and it had only been done once before in Nationals’ history. But a perfect game is a perfect game, and whether Tabata tried hard enough to elude the inside pitch became a point of contention afterwards.

Tabata didn’t bite when asked if he leaned into the pitch, and described it as just a slider that simply didn’t break.

“When I see that, I was like ‘wow,'” he said. “It got me in the elbow. I had a protector on the elbow. I know he tried to throw me a slider or something inside. But the slider was not broken, there was no break on it. It was right there and he got me.”

Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos had as good a view as anybody on the play and saw replays afterwards in the clubhouse. He thought Tabata’s elbow was in the strike zone. Rule 6.08 in the MLB rulebook states that a player must make an honest effort to avoid a pitch to be awarded a base after getting hit.

“That ball was a little bit in the strike zone, that’s what I saw in the videos,” Ramos said. “But that happens in baseball. [Scherzer] never put his head down. He got mad in that moment, but right away just get the ball back to him and he attacked the next hitter really well. That was an amazing job for him. All the credit for him.”

Manager Matt Williams said he didn’t argue the call in part due to Scherzer still carrying a no-hitter.

“I think that’s irrelevant at this point. The last thing I’m going to do is walk on the field and mess up Max’s rhythm. That’d be a crying shame. I ain’t doing that,” he said.

Scherzer became just the second pitcher ever to lose a perfect game 8 2/3 innings into his start on a HBP. The last time that happened was 1908. He is just the third pitcher in MLB history to lose a a perfect game after 26 outs and still complete a no-hitter. The last time that happened was 1972.

What happened on Saturday in the Nats’ 6-0 win was nothing short of extraordinary, even though he fell short of perfection. Pirates players and manager Clint Hurdle couldn’t help but tip their cap.

“You need to find it in your baseball heart to appreciate that performance,” Hurdle said. “We didn’t feel like the walk was in play today with the way he was throwing.”

“Unfortunately we had to see that happen against us today, but I’m just happy for him,” Pirates starter Francisco Liriano said. “I’m just happy for him. That’s not easy to do. There’s a lot of pressure for him.”

“It was just one of those things where he had everything going for him,” shortstop Jordy Mercer said. “He was 93-95 early and then 96-98 late. Just good stuff.”

Despite breaking up Scherzer’s perfect game, Tabata was still able to appreciate Scherzer’s accomplishment:

“Baseball, everything happens. I can say good for him. He got a no-no. That’s all I can say.”

  1. stoatva - Jun 20, 2015 at 9:18 PM

    I think FP said it best. “I would never have done that in that situation.”

    Tabata did, and he gets to live with it. Enjoy, buddy.

    • Richard roll - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:33 PM

      Good ‘ol FP would have used PED’s. That’s what he would have done.

  2. Karl Kolchak - Jun 20, 2015 at 9:39 PM

    Eh…I was at the game. Yeah, it was disappointing to lose the bid at perfection that way, but the Nats absolutely should not retaliate against Tabata. It would just make them look petty and (including last Sunday’s game) would take attention away from what was one of the all time great pitching performances.

    • stoatva - Jun 20, 2015 at 9:44 PM

      I basically agree, my own bluster to the contrary notwithstanding. I also doubt they’ll get the opportunity anytime soon.

      Mark says Scherzer’s likely next start Friday in Philly. That hardly seems sporting.

  3. positivelyhalfst - Jun 20, 2015 at 9:47 PM

    Tabata broke one of the bedrock rules of baseball, and should be booed every time he comes to Nationals Park for the rest of his career. I can’t believe that his bush league move took some of the joy out of only the second no-hitter in Nationals (not Expos) history.

  4. unkyd59 - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:05 PM

    Just wondering…. Anybody thinking Tabata would have been able to get his elbow out of the way if there were no protector on it….? Yeah, me too… 85 mph……just saying.

    And with that, I’m officially over it. Max was as close as you can get to a NoNo, a week ago, and even closer to a Perfecto today. That’s how I remembering this😎

  5. Candide - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:06 PM

    Argh!!! We were out visiting friends. Is there going to be a rebroadcast?

    • Candide - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:12 PM

      Never mind – DVR set for 11:30 tonight.

    • NatsLady - Jun 21, 2015 at 9:49 AM

      You mean MASN isn’t running it on a continuous loop right up until today’s game time?

      • Candide - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:12 AM

        Right this minute:
        MASN – Wounded soldier talking about how he was paralyzed by IED in Afghanistan (I assume there’s some sports connection there…)
        MASN2 – Golf

  6. Doc - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:07 PM

    Rarely does the umpire step up and call batter for purposefully trying to get hit. This was one time that he should have! Tabata just didn’t move, he moved into it!

    Another time that the men in blue looked like cowards!

    • Karl Kolchak - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:13 PM

      I totally agree, although I would note that had the ump made that call the detractors would then say that it wasn’t really a perfect game.

      • npb99 - Jun 20, 2015 at 11:11 PM

        Correct. It would always have an asterisk for the purists.

  7. Greg - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:08 PM

    Max got screwed! Tough call for ump to make in that situation but MLB should review it and say what the call should have been.

    • unkyd59 - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:20 PM

      Disagree. Max, bless him, didn’t whine, neither should The Nats, or MLB. And I’m glad the ump didn’t call it… The controversy would overshadow the accomplishment. Tabata (and everyone who will ever see the slo-mo!) knows what happened. That’ll have do….
      Great Game, Max!!!

    • jalabar - Jun 21, 2015 at 6:21 AM

      If they didn’t review and change the Joyce blunder in Galarraga’s perfect-o, they surely won’t here. This was a judgement call. The Joyce miscall was not.

    • Candide - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:37 AM

      …MLB should review it and say what the call should have been.

      I’m pretty sure the principle on reviews is that judgment calls such as these are NOT reviewable.

      Think about it for a second. Suppose the review ruling was that Tabata deliberately got HBP. If you could rule on THAT judgment call, you could also justifiably rule on whether the pitch was a ball or strike. And what if it had then been ruled a ball?

      We’d be replaying the game today, from that pitch, in a situation where under the rules, the batter would be WORSE off for getting HBP (being called out) than he would be for avoiding it – getting a 3-2 count.

      That way lies madness and – much worse – asterisks.

  8. fstop1970 - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:23 PM

    Despite “TabataGate” – what Max has done the last two Saturdays is nothing short of historic:

    How good has Max Scherzer been lately?
    Bill Baer Jun 20, 2015, 8:55 PM EDT

    On Saturday, Nationals starter Max Scherzer tossed a 16-strikeout, one-hit shutout against the Brewers. One would have been betting smart money on a lesser follow-up in Saturday’s start against the Pirates. Instead, Scherzer came one strike away from a perfect game before settling for a no-hitter with 10 strikeouts.

    If you’re counting at home, in his last 18 innings, Scherzer has allowed exactly zero runs, allowed one hit, walked one batter, and struck out 26. Along with the hit batsman, that’s three base runners in the span of two complete games. That’s quite a rare feat, as Trent McCotter, the vice chairman of the SABR records committee points out:

    Scherzer allowed only 3 baserunners over last 2 complete games. Only guy to allow fewer baserunners over 2 CGs? Pud Galvin, Buffalo, 1884

    Max Scherzer: pretty good at throwing baseballs.

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/06/20/how-good-has-max-scherzer-been-lately/related/

    • Candide - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:53 PM

      The comments after that article are quite possibly the stupidest ever that weren’t about politics, current events, or social issues.

  9. Richard roll - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:31 PM

    It was not the 2nd no-hitter in Nationals history. Until the Nationals give up the Expos records, then what that Montreal team did counts

    • Candide - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:39 AM

      It was the second no-hitter in Nationals history. It wasn’t the second no-hitter in FRANCHISE history.

  10. Candide - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:34 PM

    How ticked off is Cunegonde? VERY ticked off.

    After Max’s last gem, she looked at the schedule and our tickets for yesterday’s game and she was all, “WooHoo*, we’re going to get to see Scherzer pitch!”

    Then when we learned Ross was pitching yesterday, she was all, ” Dammit, I wanted to see Scherzer pitch!”

    And then when we were visiting friends this afternoon/evening and couldn’t watch the game and I peeked at MLB AtBat and told her Max had pitched a no-no, she was all, “WooHoo*/Dammit!”

    And then when she remembered that a bunch of our friends from our ski club were there today, she was all DAMMITDAMMITDAMMIT!!!”

    *Copyright 2015 MicheleS – all rights reserved.

    • scmargenau - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:39 PM

      Lol

    • MicheleS - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:45 AM

      That’s awesome! I didn’t go either, I am just as disappointed as Cunegonde!!!

  11. scmargenau - Jun 20, 2015 at 10:37 PM

    Cy Shertzer

  12. fstop1970 - Jun 20, 2015 at 11:00 PM

    And then there is this on MLB from a Pirates fan:

    @david122072 “We have wanted him gone for years now….he has done many things like this, showing his true character”

    Think that pretty much sums up Tabata. We’ve heard Carlos Gomez, and Jose Tabata is no Carlos Gomez/

  13. Section 222 - Jun 20, 2015 at 11:54 PM

    I was at the game, and also watched the replay a few times. While I can see why people might claim that Tabata stuck his elbow out, I don’t think it’s all that clear. He was turning away from the pitch, turning to the inside as ballplayers always do. It seems kind of natural that his elbow might move down and even slightly closer to the plate as he does that.

    MW and Scherzer did exactly the right thing — get the next batter and take the no-no. It’s a fantastic accomplishment. Complaining about it helps no one.

    • Eric - Jun 21, 2015 at 2:15 AM

      +1

      I was angry in the moment in the stands, but on the replay it seems like he was simply checking his swing. His elbow does drop in slightly suspicious fashion in slow motion; however, he clearly started his swing, and then checked, and to do all that and intentionally get your elbow lined up with the pitch seems like a stretch.

      Just my opinion.

      In the end, and all things considered, that was an incredible experience. Congrats, Max!!!

    • Section 222 - Jun 21, 2015 at 5:19 PM

      I’ve seen a few more commenters, though none of the ‘”regulars,” take our side on this.

      Of course, I booed like crazy at the game today. Nothing wrong with having a bit of fun with it. Tabata will be probably be booed at Nats Park for the rest of his career.

  14. Candide - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:43 AM

    Question: If a batter is in a 1-for 56 slump, with one walk and a HBP, do you bench him?

    Answer: Of course.

    That’s what MLB is doing against Scherzer. So I suggest the next time he’s scheduled to start, the other team should simply take the day off.

    Why risk having someone get injured for no good reason?

    • Candide - Jun 21, 2015 at 10:44 AM

      Whoops – make that one for 57.

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