Unstoppable force vs. immovable object: Comparing Max Scherzer's two epic no-hitters
Back on June 20, Max Scherzer set the baseball world (and purveyors of chocolate syrup everywhere) on fire with a dominant no-hitter against the Pirates. (He would've gotten away with a perfect game, too, if it weren't for one meddling elbow pad.)
It was the sort of moment that would mark the high point in just about anybody's season. Scherzer, however, isn't just anybody, but is instead a fire-breathing dragon bent on the destruction of batters everywhere. Not only was that no-no arguably not even the best start of his week, but Mad Max went and outdid himself again on Saturday night, no-hitting the Mets while racking up a career-high 17 K's.
It's not often that one pitcher puts together two starts that great in one season, so to commemorate the occasion we decided to go to the highly subjective tale of the tape and see which was more historically awesome:
Lucky for us, there's a handy way put a number on Scherzer's nastiness: Bill James' game score stat. Since 1914, only 12 players had ever eclipsed the 100 mark in a nine-inning game (including Scherzer back on June 14, because of course), and only Nolan Ryan had done it twice. That is, until Saturday -- Scherzer's performance in Queens registered a remarkable 104 (!), the second-highest score in history behind Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout gem back in 1998.
Scherzer's no-hitter against the Pirates, while still amazing, "only" clocked in at 97. What a slacker.
So, so many strikeouts
Surprise: Both no-hitters included a whole bunch of whiffs. Again, though, Saturday's performance has just a slight edge, simply because at one point Scherzer seemed like he might never stop striking people out. Not only did he fan every starting position player, but he sat down nine straight batters. No, seriously. We have the video to prove it:
The nine straight strikeouts were just one shy of Tom Seaver's big league record. Sorry, no-hitter number one -- 10 K's ain't bad, but it's got nothing on that.
Look, no one's complaining about a no-hitter -- let alone two. But man, what could've been. In June, Scherzer was one out away from a perfect game, until this happened:
And, because the Baseball Gods have 1) no mercy and 2) very, very long memories, Scherzer's second perfecto bid ended like so:
In case you're wondering, yes, that is as rare as you'd think -- Scherzer is the first pitcher in baseball history to record two no-hitters without a walk in the same season.
The festivities after the final out back in June were the Platonic Ideal of the baseball celebration. There were elaborate handshakes:
There was the requisite sports drink dumping:
There was, uh, whatever the heck this is:
The celebration on Saturday night was a little more muted, but rest assured, there was still plenty of partying:
Despite the drop-off in celebratory technique, however, the overall tally has to go to Saturday's no-hitter. (You read the part about nine straight strikeouts, right?) But the real takeaway is this: The nation should not be forced to go six months without watching this man pitch.