Scherzer earns game score of 100
Near-perfect outing ranks as sixth-best of all time by James' metric
Max Scherzer may have come up shy in his bid for perfection on Sunday, but that didn't stop the Nationals ace from turning in one of the best nine-inning starts of all-time against the Brewers.
Scherzer racked up a career-high 16 strikeouts in the 4-0 victory, while facing just two over the minimum en route to finishing with a game score of 100, tied for the sixth-highest among nine-inning starts in Major League history. The only five outings of nine innings or less to rank higher than Scherzer's include two perfect games, two no-hitters and Kerry Wood's record-tying 20-strikeout performance in 1998 that resulted in a record game score of 105.
For those unfamiliar with game score, it's a metric created by Bill James to evaluate individual outings. A pitcher starts each game with 50 points and has one point added for each out, two points for each inning completed after the fourth and one point for each strikeout. Two points are subtracted for each hit allowed, four points for each earned run allowed, two points for each unearned run allowed and one point for each walk.
Scherzer carried a perfect game into the seventh inning before Carlos Gomez dropped a blooper into shallow right field for what proved to be the only hit Scherzer would allow. Scherzer issued a one-out walk in the eighth inning, his only other blemish on the afternoon, before striking out four of the final five batters to finish off the shutout.
"I thought he was in complete control from the first pitch," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "They're an aggressive swinging club that he was able to get ahead on and finish. Really nice performance."
It all added up to that even game score of 100, the highest since Clayton Kershaw's no-hitter -- and near perfect game -- produced a 102 game score last June. Kershaw tallied 18 strikeouts in that June 18 outing against the Rockies, in which Colorado's lone baserunner reached via a throwing error in the seventh inning.
Kershaw's gem ranks second only to Wood's historic 20-strikeout outing on May 6, 1998. Pitching for the Cubs, Wood allowed just one hit (an infield single), while tying Roger Clemens' record for most strikeouts in a game. Wood struck out the first five batters he faced, as well as eight of the last nine, on his way to that remarkable record-shattering 105 game score.
The only three other outings to top Scherzer's game score from Sunday are a trio at 101. Matt Cain reached that mark in his June 13, 2012 perfect game, as did Nolan Ryan in his May 1, 1991 no-hitter and Sandy Koufax in his Sept. 9, 1965 perfect game. Cain and Koufax put up matching 14-strikeout performances in their perfectos, while Ryan tallied 16 strikeouts and two walks in his no-hitter.
Prior to Scherzer hitting triple digits against the Brewers, the highest game score in 2015 was 98, reached by both the Giants' Chris Heston in his Tuesday no-hitter and Cleveland's Corey Kluber in his dazzling 18-strikeout, eight-inning performance on May 13 against the Cardinals.