MIAMI -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker didn't need to take much time on his decision to leave one of the National League's best pitchers in the ballgame.After Max Scherzer's no-hitter was broken up by A.J. Ellis with one out in the eighth inning of the Nationals' 2-1 loss to the
MIAMI -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker didn't need to take much time on his decision to leave one of the National League's best pitchers in the ballgame.
After Max Scherzer's no-hitter was broken up by A.J. Ellis with one out in the eighth inning of the Nationals' 2-1 loss to the Marlins at Marlins Park, Baker didn't flinch. Scherzer was at just 106 pitches, nothing crazy for a guy that entered with an average of 106 per start this season.
Scherzer's teammates had a chance to wrap up the eighth inning, but first baseman Adam Lind dropped a low throw on a grounder to shortstop Trea Turner with two outs, opening the door to trouble.
From there, Scherzer began to lose command, hitting Dee Gordon to load the bases. That might've prompted a call to the bullpen as the Nats clung to a 1-0 lead.
In the back of Baker's mind, however, could've been the fact that his bullpen owns the worst ERA in the NL at 5.04. Baker stuck with Scherzer, who said he still had gas in the tank.
"It was his game, and he was still throwing the ball great," Baker said. "Who could you bring in that was throwing better than him? That's how you've got to consider it."
His pitch count now at 115, Scherzer jumped out to a quick 1-2 count against Giancarlo Stanton. But his 119th pitch sailed over catcher Jose Lobaton's head to tie the game at 1.
On his 121st and final pitch, Scherzer hung an 85.6-mph slider to Stanton, a pitch he had used to carve him and the rest of Miami's hitters up for seven innings prior. It was the same pitch he struck Gordon with.
"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."
Lobaton could tell Scherzer was laboring that inning, but he also knew he was still throwing well.
"He was getting tired," Lobaton said. "I mean, how many pitches was he at? 110? 120? That's too many. I love the way he competes. He wants to win. They gave it to him. It didn't go well, but in general, he threw really good."
Baker didn't have any regrets about his decision following the game. He trusted his gut and his eyes, the same ones that watched Scherzer flirt with his third career no-hitter.
Had Scherzer escaped the eighth unscathed, the bullpen would've taken over.
"He had no-hit stuff tonight," Baker said. "If it wasn't for that little cheap hit and then we made the error, we're out of that inning and then he's done and we go to the bullpen at the point in time."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.