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Scherzer throws 2nd no-hitter of season, shuts out Mets

Oct 3, 2015, 9:27 PM EDT

USA Today Sports Images

Updated at 12:10 a.m.

NEW YORK — In a perfect world, Max Scherzer would have done this either of the two previous times he faced the Mets, either on July 31 here at Citi Field or on Labor Day at Nationals Park. Those series were turning points in the Nationals’ season and played major roles in their eventual handing over of the NL East title to New York. When he took the mound Saturday on a frigid, wind-whipped night made for a late-season game of great importance, nothing really was on the line.

That shouldn’t, however, take anything away from what Scherzer did accomplish. Because the right-hander still had to face 28 big-league batters, and he still couldn’t let any of them record a clean base hit off him. Which is exactly what he did to cap a remarkable season.

Scherzer became only the sixth pitcher in major-league history to throw two no-hitters in the same year, blowing away the Mets with a masterful performance that only got better as it progressed. Yunel Escobar’s sixth-inning throwing error proved the only blemish on the night for the Nationals, who pulled off a 2-0 victory over Matt Harvey and Co. during a memorable penultimate game to a collectively frustrating season.

“It’s been a disappointing season for the team, no doubt about that,” Scherzer said. “And that’s why this is bittersweet. We wish we were playing longer in October, but we’re not.”

No matter the club’s ultimate fate, Scherzer and his teammates had no trouble celebrating this achievement, not to mention his newfound place in baseball history.

Only five pitchers had previously thrown two no-hitters in the same season: Johnny Vander Meer (1938), Allie Reynolds (1951), Virgil Trucks (1952), Nolan Ryan (1973) and Roy Halladay (2010, with his second no-hitter coming in the postseason).

“Speechless,” Scherzer said. “You mention that. You go out there and try to accomplish as much as you can, have as much success as you can, but when you start talking about that stuff, you don’t even have words for it.”

In some ways, Scherzer was better in this game than any of those aforementioned pitchers were in theirs. His 17 strikeouts shattered the club record he set in Milwaukee in June. He didn’t issue any walks. He struck out nine in a row, one shy of Tom Seaver’s all-time record. His Game Score (a stat created by Bill James to compare singular pitching performances across generations) on this night was 104, the second-best 9-inning start of all-time and only one point behind Kerry Wood’s 105 for the Cubs in 1998.

“It’s awesome. It makes our job easy,” said second baseman Dan Uggla, who caught one of the only hard-hit balls all night. “You don’t see that too often. It just tells you how good he is, and how good he can be at any given point.”

The Mets, who played most of their regulars in the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader, sat most of them in the nightcap. But manager Terry Collins didn’t hold back in the ninth inning. Yoenis Cespedes came off the bench to lead off the final frame, with Lucas Duda following suit. No matter: Scherzer struck out both guys, then got Curtis Granderson to popup to third to end the game and set off a mad celebration in the middle of the diamond.

“When you do something like that, we’re gonna celebrate and we’re gonna have fun no matter what’s going on,” first baseman Clint Robinson said. “A no-hitter’s a no-hitter no matter how you slice it.”

“It was a blast,” said rookie Trea Turner, who started at shortstop with Ian Desmond off. “You watch him on TV and it’s hard to describe the feeling that you get when you’re actually out there and you’re the one that might have to make a play in order to kind of keep the no-hitter intact. So it was intense and a lot of fun.”

Scherzer was in control from the very start, retiring the side through the night’s first three innings, striking out five. The only truly hard-hit ball against him came in the fourth, when Granderson lined a ball to second, with Uggla making the play with relative ease.

By the time he took the mound for the sixth, Scherzer still hadn’t put a man on base, but that attempt at a perfect game was quashed when Escobar’s throw to first on Kevin Plawecki’s grounder skipped and bounced out of Robinson’s glove.

“It’s just a play that didn’t get made,” Scherzer said. “Yuni goes out there and competes as hard as anybody. I’m sure he doesn’t feel great about it. Look, we’re major leaguers. We go out there — and, especially him — he competes. He battles through injuries. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him. The play just didn’t get made.”

No matter, because Scherzer went right back to work and got out of the inning without anything else surrendered. Thus he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning for the fourth time this season. (He carried a no-no into the sixth inning six times.)

Harvey was just as good as Scherzer early on, retiring the first seven batters he faced, six via strikeout. But the young Mets ace wasn’t perfect. The Nationals picked up three singles off him through five innings, then managed to manufacture a run in the sixth thanks to Kelly Johnson’s error, Robinson’s single and Wilson Ramos’ sacrifice fly.

One inning later, Uggla provided the big blow: a solo homer off reliever Hansel Robles. It was Uggla’s first home run since his memorable game-winner in Atlanta on April 28, and it gave Scherzer a 2-0 cushion as he prepared for the latter innings of this game.

Turns out the right-hander didn’t need any extra insurance. He seized control of this game from the moment he took the mound. And though this performance may not have led the Nationals to the postseason, it certainly does leave a good taste in his mouth as he heads home for the winter.

“Look, I get it. They won the division,” he said. “They’re trying to get home-field advantage. They’re trying to give you everything they’ve got. I understand what’s at stake. We’re Major League Baseball players. It doesn’t matter if you’re in it or out of it, you have to give the effort no matter what. Tonight, I thought that as a team we did that. That’s what’s exciting: When everybody comes to the park, even for a doubleheader, long day, cold weather … our guys still brought it.”

  1. ehay2k - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:29 PM

    Hats off to Max, Ramos, and Cat!! And he could have had 4, with 2 perfect games.

    As for the Mets, why would they leave Harvey in after he gave up the run? TdeJa Vu in his future.

  2. Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:31 PM

    What’s his pitching score for this, 110? More?

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:34 PM

      112 !

    • NatsLady - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:35 PM

      104. That might be the highest of any pitcher this season.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:40 PM

        OK, what did I do wrong?
        50 + 27 + 10 + 17 all minus zero

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:43 PM

        Ah, just can’t add, is all.

        The Sofa regrets the error.

      • NatsLady - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:07 PM

        I didn’t add or subtract. Looked at the box score. 😉

  3. NatsNut - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:33 PM

    Wow Zuckerman. It still amazes me how quick you get these things posted!

    • ehay2k - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:40 PM

      What I want to know is: did he type No Hitter in the headline before it happened? Or did he type those words in only after Max sealed the deal? I bet the latter. With Northwestern shutting out the Gophers, Mark Z. probably didn’t want to push his luck!

  4. Bob Park - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:34 PM

    Whoooooooohoooooooooooooooooo!

  5. NatsNut - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:35 PM

    sofa and ehay2k, I hope we weren’t the only ones watching! (thanks again, sofa!)

    • NatsLady - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:37 PM

      I was watching. And I was really glad it was against the Mets (I’m not nearly as gracious as Bryce) and there were a few Nats fans to see it in person.

      • NatsNut - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:51 PM

        Me too. Cold, windy, rainy-ish and nothing really to play for and he still does this. Very satisfying!

      • natsfan1a - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:53 PM

        Me, too, although I did think it was nice of the Mets fans to be yelling “Let’s go, Max” in the 9th. What?

      • ehay2k - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:52 PM

        I was thinking the same thing

    • natsfan1a - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:48 PM

      I was watching, too. Atta way, team Scherzer!

    • Section 222 - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:48 PM

      Watching and enjoying. Unreal.

    • adcwonk - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:55 PM

      The Wonkling and I were watching.

      The double bonus of: (a) my seeing Scherzer’s no-no; and (b) watching my daughter watching it (we held hands during the ninth because we were so nervous and hanging on every pitch) was priceless.

      And reminds me again of why I am a fan.

      (Those who give up on, and stop watching the team just because they were eliminated lose out on such moments)

      • natsfan1a - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:59 PM

        I’m glad that you and the Wonkling were able to share that experience.

      • adcwonk - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:24 PM

        Thanks!

        When my kids were first born, a wise person aske me to think of my favorite memories as a kid — and then told me that: we are our kids memory makers. It’ll be a “remember when” moment for me for a long time. Hope it’ll be the same with her.

      • patrickthand - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:23 PM

        Cool.

  6. Drew - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:37 PM

    He came so close to having a record three in a season. He’s some kind of a competitor.

  7. ehay2k - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:38 PM

    Oh, I said I wasn’t going to miss this matchup. Glad I didn’t. Really want Stras and the other hurlers to learn from this.

  8. tcostant - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:51 PM

    Amazing part is the game before each ni hitter, he flirted with a no-no in each. Mad Max lives¡

  9. Section 222 - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:54 PM

    The true die-hard fans were watching tonight, and we were rewarded.

  10. joemktg - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:54 PM

    Haven’t seen a dominate performance like that since Kerry Wood’s 20K one hitter in 1998.

    • stoatva - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:58 PM

      105. Only higher in inning score, ever.

      Hit report instead of reply by accident. Sorry about that.

      • stoatva - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:58 PM

        9 inning.

  11. rmoore446 - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:55 PM

    I was thrilled to witness the second via television. What a masterful performance!!

    • stoatva - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:00 PM

      Certain parties at the “other” blog (only one actually) are unimpressed. Meaningless game, doncha know?

      Good lord, I hope I never get that blasé, or hung up about the playoffs.

      • chrisrw109nats - Oct 4, 2015 at 1:04 AM

        I’ve been asking for the ‘other’ blogs address. But if they’re waving off this game then… well bugger that.

        This was a fascinatingly dominant game.
        9 SOs in a row, the third time through the order? All of them Swinging strike outs? 16 Swinging SOs out of 17?

        It’s weird, that Scherzer could have had 2 Perfectos and an additional 2 No-Nos this year, even without them I hope that it puts to rest any ‘We wasted our money’ kind of conversations about him.

        One of the most dominant performances I’ve ever seen, and I’m just bummed I didn’t drive up to NY to see it (had tickets on offer, but I’ve been sick all week).

  12. adcwonk - Oct 3, 2015 at 9:58 PM

    It occurs to me that this gives lie to the canard that K’s drive up the pitch count so much.

    It’s much more often that baserunners, particularly walks, that drive up a pitch count — not so much K’s. And when you strike out a guy, you can’t get BABIP’ed

    Just sayin’

    • Section 222 - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:21 PM

      Absolutely right. Was Max “pitching to contact” tonight? I don’t think so.

      • ehay2k - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:33 PM

        He clearly pitched to contact only Wilson’s glove!

    • chrisrw109nats - Oct 4, 2015 at 1:08 AM

      Honestly in general SOs do raise the pitch count. Most SOs aren’t 3 pitch at bats, they tend to go 4 or 5. Where a pitch to contact guy is generally gonna take 2 to 3… when that contact is turning into outs. The best example of this is Maddux, and the stat that’s named after him (complete game shutout, sub 100 pitches).

      The difference from Max tonight was that he was so over-powering and was placing the ball so well that the guys (with the exception of Cespedes) weren’t able to foul things off that were in the zone. He had a combination of power, command, and location that had them swinging at pitches they couldn’t catch up with, and flailing at the rare pitches that weren’t in the zone.

      • adcwonk - Oct 4, 2015 at 11:24 AM

        Honestly in general SOs do raise the pitch count.

        My point is that they do not raise it nearly as much as hits and walks do — because then you’re pitching to an extra batter. And pitching to extra batters is what _really_ raises the pitch count.

  13. Drew - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:07 PM

    In case anyone’s under the impression that Rizzo’s in trouble:

    The Nats have now averaged 90 wins for the last four years. Big picture, that’s pretty good.

    But he needs to fix that bullpen and figure out who’s going to play LF the next time Werth misses dozens of games.

    • patrickthand - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:10 PM

      One of only four teams with a winning record the last four years (Cards, Yanks and Dodgers are the others).

  14. patrickthand - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:08 PM

    Curtis Granderson’s pop up to end the game left intact perhaps the Mets’ most storied individual record: Tom Seaver’s 10 consecutive strikeouts. But Boo to the Mets’ fans at Citi Field for not applauding after the game.

    • natsfan1a - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:14 PM

      And an extra loud boo for the guy who was yelling “Get off the field, [AH]” after the game ended.

      • Section 222 - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:22 PM

        +1. Classy.

  15. patrickthand - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:13 PM

    I hope Matt Williams makes sure that Dan Uggla does not get into the game tomorrow. I can’t imagine he will get a contract next year, and that way he will have homered in his final major league at bat.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:18 PM

      Assuming it IS his final plate appearance. It might well be, but he’s a competitive guy, and I bet he tries to catch on somewhere next year. Who knows, maybe this is what puts him over? Good luck to him.

      • patrickthand - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:29 PM

        Uggla didn’t do much this year, but he was in the middle of two highlights of the season: the comeback win over the Braves in April, and tonight (with his nice grab of the only hard hit ball, in addition to the homer). This would be a nice way for him to end a good career.

  16. lovedanats - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:23 PM

    Thank you Max for that wonderful ray of sunshine to end this season!

  17. Nats Fan Zee - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:27 PM

    I was at a friend’s and had to go to another room to watch the 8th and 9th. What a treat to end this season. Magnificent job Max!

    Let’s take the last game too so Bryce can go 4 fit 4 and get 100 RBI and seal the batting title!

  18. ehay2k - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:34 PM

    +34

  19. jfmii - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:44 PM

    Was staring at college football and got sad thinking the Nationals’ season is about to end. So flipped baseball and the Nats. Just in time to see them score run number 1. Sure glad I stayed tuned.

  20. 3on2out - Oct 3, 2015 at 10:50 PM

    Just heard the classy Mets fans chanted “Washington sucks” throughout the whole game. This is on top of cheering when Harper got hit by Thor in the first game.

    I hope the Dodgers sweep their sorry New York asses,

    • ArVAFan - Oct 3, 2015 at 11:13 PM

      Karma can be a b*tch. Perhaps it will bite them in the hind part.

  21. Candide - Oct 3, 2015 at 11:12 PM

    Cunegonde and I have season tickets for the Alexandria Symphony. Their first concert of the season was tonight. ArVaFan and spouse also have season tickets so they were right behind us. It was 0-0 when the concert started and we put our phones in airplane mode. Intermission, I looked again and reported, “Max is doing it AGAIN!” It was 2-0 at the time.

    The lights came up at the end of the concert and ArVaFan got her phone going before me, and said, “He got it!”

    Recording the rebroadcast tonight.

  22. senators5 - Oct 4, 2015 at 12:26 AM

    OK, I will be the Grinch who stole well you get the point ….. The Nats had 18Ks!! with TM leading with 4 for 4. My math tells me that is 35 Ks. I am REALLY glad I was not a Mets fan paying premium dollars for seats and see a game like that. Kinda like watching a NFL game where the only score is a single field goal and you lose home field advantage in the process. OH well, it was a GREAT performance by Sherzer. I hope Escobar sleeps well…..

    • Section 222 - Oct 4, 2015 at 12:58 AM

      Max was very classy in his postgame presser when asked about Esco’s error. Esco also gave the ball from the final popup to Max while they were celebrating on the field.

    • chrisrw109nats - Oct 4, 2015 at 1:13 AM

      Eh.

      I honestly don’t have a problem watching a pitching gem, and frankly if folks are bored at that I don’t have any sympathy at all. I don’t mind a good offensive showing (let’s put up 12 tomorrow, and have Bryce go 5 for 5), but there’s something amazing about watching someone like Max pitch like he did today.

      Were the strikeouts an issue? Sure. Pretty much was guaranteed to be with Bryce out and given the struggles of Desi and TyMo.

      But honestly, we could have been no hit and won the game on a walk / steal / sac fly… and I wouldn’t have cared.

    • Candide - Oct 4, 2015 at 7:21 AM

      Some people would complain about an orgasm.

    • rabbit433 - Oct 4, 2015 at 8:37 AM

      That’s why it’s so hard to pitch a perfect game. Any one of 9 guys can prevent it, from a fielding error to a WALK. Max understands this, so I hope Esco is over it.

      • NatsLady - Oct 4, 2015 at 9:47 AM

        Not to mention a guy sticking his elbow out…

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