Scherzer just shy of no-no in victory over Reds
WASHINGTON -- Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer almost put himself in the record books Monday afternoon, coming within five outs of his second no-hitter of the season in a 5-1 victory over the Reds at Nationals Park. Scherzer allowed one run on two hits with 10 strikeouts and three walks over eight innings in a makeup of a game that was to be be played on July 8.
Had Scherzer completed the no-hitter, he would have become the sixth pitcher to accomplish the feat twice in a season (including the postseason). The last to do it was Roy Halladay in 2010. Scherzer pitched his first no-hitter on June 20 in a 6-0 victory over the Pirates.
"Scherzer had some great plays early," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "The pitch count was in order. He was pushing it. I thought he was going to do it again. He pitched really well."
Scherzer received plenty of help on defense. Tyler Moore, a first baseman by trade, made a great diving grab off the bat of Skip Schumaker in the third inning. In that same inning, Anthony Rendon made a nice barehanded play off the bat of Ivan De Jesus.
"I was getting some luck," Scherzer said. "They hit a couple of ball at some people. Our guys made some great plays. I thought we had the makings of it."
The Reds would eventually get to Scherzer in the eighth inning, when catcher Tucker Barnhart singled to left field. Two batters later, Schumaker singled up the middle to bring Barnhart home.
"[The no-hitter's] obviously in the back of your mind, but you try to get that out of your head as much as possible," Barnhart said. "It was trying to go away, and it kind of came back over the plate. Right there, I was just trying to be short to the ball and see what I could do. Luckily, I put a good swing on it. But Max was great all day. It was obvious by the way he made us look at the plate. I mean, that's him. He's one of the best pitchers there is." More >
The Nationals were able to get to rookie left-hander Brandon Finnegan in the fourth inning. Moore scored on a double by Matt den Dekker, while Dan Uggla came home on a single by Michael Taylor. An inning later, Wilson Ramos hit a solo shot to make it a three-run game. The Nats increased their lead to four when den Dekker hit a home run off right-hander Jumbo Diaz.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
den Dekker steps in: den Dekker crushed his fifth home run of the season and added two doubles as he started in place of Bryce Harper. den Dekker raised his batting average to .276 and his OPS to .866. den Dekker made a few changes to his swing at Triple-A Syracuse, adding a new leg kick that has increased his power. The new swing has also helped him better recognize breaking pitches.
"I'm going out there trying to have good at-bats and good swings on the ball. It's working out for me," den Dekker said.
Bruce battles for ball four: With Scherzer seven outs away from completing the no-hitter, he and Jay Bruce engaged in an 11-pitch battle. Bruce quickly fell behind, 0-2, and he fouled off seven pitches in the at-bat, including one after the count went full. On the 11th pitch, Bruce took a 99-mph fastball off the plate for the walk. It wasn't the preferred outcome for Scherzer, but the no-hitter remained intact for another inning.
"It's really just, at that time, it's just trying to put the ball in play, trying not to expand too much," Bruce said. "I think I did a little bit, but when he's got that kind of stuff and he's pitching with that feel, you just do what you got to do in order to win the at-bat. I was able to not make an out there, but all in all, he was great today."
Scherzer by the numbers: Scherzer won his 13th game of the season. He is one of three pitchers in the Majors to have at least 10 starts of 10-plus strikeouts this season. Scherzer also went 2-for-3 at the plate, increasing his season total to a career-high 14 hits. More >
On the other side: Finnegan's third start with the Reds got off to a positive start, as he posted zeros in the first three innings. However, he allowed four hits and a walk in the Nats' two-run fourth, and then a solo home run in the fifth. Finnegan struck out three and walked two over his five innings.
"There weren't a lot of great at-bats against [Scherzer]. He just had that kind of stuff." -- Reds manager Bryan Price
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Reds have had a hit in their previous 7,087 regular-season games, which dates back to June 1971.
Reds: The Reds return to Cincinnati for the final three home games of the season against the Cubs starting on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Josh Smith (0-2, 7.23 ERA) will make his sixth career start and first against Chicago.
Nationals: The Nationals go to Atlanta to play a three-game series against the Braves, beginning Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Tanner Roark will make the start for Washington. In his last start against the Orioles, he picked up a no-decision during a 5-4 loss. Roark allowed three runs in five innings.
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