MIAMI -- Dominant. Electric. Unhittable. Max Scherzer was all those things for most of Wednesday afternoon at Marlins Park.But the unpredictability of baseball took over in the eighth inning, and the Marlins went from nearly being no-hit to rallying to an improbable 2-1 victory over the Nationals.Nothing conventional occurred in
MIAMI -- Dominant. Electric. Unhittable. Max Scherzer was all those things for most of Wednesday afternoon at Marlins Park.
But the unpredictability of baseball took over in the eighth inning, and the Marlins went from nearly being no-hit to rallying to an improbable 2-1 victory over the Nationals.
Nothing conventional occurred in the inning, which featured slow-footed A.J. Ellis reaching on an infield single, pitcher Jose Urena being used as a pinch-runner, an error by first baseman Adam Lind, a wild pitch, a hit batter and eventually Giancarlo Stanton's scorched game-winning single to left.
"I kind of went through both scenarios of him getting a no-hitter and him getting the loss," Stanton said. "All you need is a little blooper or a hit like Ellis got to get us started. It worked out for us."
The way Scherzer was cruising, the Marlins needed every bit of good fortune they could get.
Scherzer entered the eighth inning at 98 pitches, and he struck out Derek Dietrich on three pitches, moving within five outs of his third career no-hitter.
On a day Scherzer fanned 11, Ellis became the unlikely candidate to break up a no-hit bid. The veteran bounced a slider just high enough, deflecting off Scherzer's glove. It was tracked by Baseball Savant's game feed at 90.3 mph.
"As soon as it hit his glove, I said, 'I wish I was faster,'" Ellis said. "That's about it."
Actually, Ellis was fast enough, because the ball rolled toward shortstop Trea Turner, who couldn't handle it cleanly.
"I just ran as hard as you could, and you hear the crowd cheer," Ellis said. "I knew something good happened for us. Then I see Jose come trotting in."
Urena, who will start Friday against the Cubs, pinch-ran, and he went to second on JT Riddle's slow grounder to second.
"It's not the best scenario; you have your pitcher running," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "In my mind, you're thinking, 'Who's going to replace those innings he's giving us if he would go down?' You're trying to win a game."
J.T. Realmuto pinch-hit with two outs and grounded to short, but Lind wasn't able to handle Turner's throw, and on the error, Urena moved to third. Dee Gordon was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Stanton.
On a day Scherzer recorded 27 swinging strikes, he threw a ball to the backstop, allowing Urena to slide in safely on the wild pitch.
The only solid contact the Marlins had all day came on Scherzer's 121st and final pitch. Stanton laced a slider into left field. Statcast™ had the exit speed at 108.1 mph.
"A couple sliders got away from me. I wasn't able to execute that pitch there," Scherzer said. "Later in that inning, that's what cost me. That's what lost the game."
Added Stanton: "I got good barrel on it. It just kept going and going. I just waited that one out. Luckily, it got a short skip."
Ryan Raburn nearly caught the hot liner, but when it bounced, Realmuto scored the go-ahead run. Raburn made a strong throw to nab Gordon at the plate, keeping it a one-run game.
"You know it's a no-hitter, obviously," Ellis said. "You know that from about the fifth inning on with a guy like Max on the mound. But you know you're only one swing away, one baserunner away from being right back in it. You just keep grinding, keep trying to find a pitch to hit and hope something happens."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.