The Pittsburgh Pirates have been one of baseball’s hottest teams recently, winning 21 of their last 27 games, but Washington Nationals RHP Max Scherzer cooled them down this afternoon as he retired the first 26 Pirate hitters. With two outs in the ninth, pinch hitter Jose Tabata stepped in and was plunked on a 2-2 pitch by Scherzer. Tabata appeared to lean into the pitch or didn’t make much of an effort to get out of the way of the inside breaking ball. Emotions running high after home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski awarded Tabata first base, the Nats ace was able to get Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison to fly out to left to complete the 289th no-hitter in MLB history and defeat the Bucs 6-0.
Scherzer only threw 106 pitches in the game today and recorded 10 strikeouts. Just last Sunday, Scherzer flirted with a perfect game against the Milwaukee Brewers, before he lost it in the seventh inning. He struck out 16 Brewers on 119 pitches which is second most thrown by him in his career to finish off the one-hitter. His career high pitches during a game is 127, which he threw in 2011 as a member of the Detroit Tigers. This is arguably the best two consecutive starts by a pitcher in MLB history, allowing one walk and one hit in 18 straight innings. His average Game Score for the last two starts is 98.5. He’s put out 54 of the last 57 hitters, to put it in another perspective, and has six starts this season with double digit strikeout outings.
Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa who was playing in short right field may have saved the then perfect game when he made a brilliant off-balance play to rob Pirates first baseman Pedro Alvarez of a base hit as the Nationals were playing the shift.
Let’s see that perfect game-saving play again. pic.twitter.com/jocvolPOnj
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) June 20, 2015
This is MLB’s second no hitter this year, the first being San Francisco Giants RHP Chris Heston who no hit the New York Mets on June 9th. Both of these gems have resulted in no hits, with hit batters. Heston hit three Mets during his milestone accomplishment.
Out of the 106 pitches that Scherzer threw 77% of them were strikes. He was able to get ahead of batters and stay ahead, thus keeping his pitch count low throughout the game. All three of the ace’s pitches were on point and continued to mow down hitters by pounding the strike zone. The last Nationals pitcher to throw a no-hitter was RHP Jordan Zimmermann who completed the feat against the Miami Marlins on the final day of the 2014 regular season. The franchise’s only perfect game came in 1991, when Montrel Expos pitcher Dennis Martinez completed his masterpiece against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Expos became the Nationals when they moved to D.C. in 2005.
MadMax has been worth every cent of his seven-year, $210 million dollar contact, which he signed during the offseason this past January. It is truly historic what we are seeing from him and he continues to get better each start to make his case for the 2015 Cy Young Award. He improved his record to 8-5, with a major league leading 123 strikeouts and 1.76 ERA.
Scherzer got a taste of his own medicine after pitching the no-hitter when multiple Nats covered him with Hersey’s Chocolate Syrup. The right-hander came up with the celebration of coating players after walk-off wins or remarkable outings. Here is his absolute gem if you haven’t seen it already.