No-no encore: Scherzer tosses 2nd of 2015
NEW YORK -- Pure domination is the best way to describe right-hander Max Scherzer during the second game of a doubleheader against the Mets on Saturday night. Scherzer put himself in the record books, pitching his second no-hitter of the season as the Nationals blanked the Mets, 2-0.
Scherzer became the sixth pitcher with two no-hitters in the same season (including the playoffs): Roy Halladay (2010) was the last pitcher to have that distinction, with one of his no-hitters coming in the postseason. Nolan Ryan (1973), Virgil Trucks (1952), Allie Reynolds ('51) and Johnny Vander Meer (1938) were the other pitchers to throw two no-hitters in the regular season.
"You go out there and accomplish as much as you can," Scherzer said. "When you start talking about that stuff, you don't have words for it."
Scherzer had a perfect game until the sixth inning, when third baseman Yunel Escobar committed an error on a ground ball off the bat of Kevin Plawecki. After that, Scherzer was untouchable, striking out nine of the next 12 batters he faced. He had a total of 17 strikeouts, a new Nationals record and a personal career high. Scherzer tied Ryan for the most strikeouts in any no-hitter and he set the record for the most punchouts in a no-hit, no-walk game. At one point, Scherzer struck out nine in a row.
"When you go through the order one time through, you know you have something going. When you go through the lineup two times through, you know you have a real shot," Scherzer said. "After you get through six, you know you have a shot. If you can get through seven, then you can really empty the tank in the eighth and you give everything you have in the ninth. Once I was able to get through the seventh, I knew, 'Here we go, we have a real shot at this.'"
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey was pretty good himself. He pitched six innings, allowed an unearned run on four hits and struck out 11 batters. But Scherzer's gem, coupled with the Dodgers' win over the Padres, ensured the Mets would begin the National League Division Series on the road in Los Angeles.
In the sixth inning, Michael Taylor reached on an error by third baseman Kelly Johnson, advanced to third on a single by Clint Robinson and scored on a sacrifice fly by Wilson Ramos.
Dan Uggla added to the scoring by hitting a solo homer, his second of the year, off Hansel Robles, in the seventh.
After the game, the Nationals were in the clubhouse spraying beer all over Scherzer for what he accomplished.
"There was a huge beer shower in the clubhouse," Scherzer said. "It was free and cold."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Scherzer does it: The exclamation point on Scherzer's night was a stretch of nine consecutive strikeouts from the sixth through ninth innings, all of them swinging, most of those swings not particularly close. Curtis Granderson went down on a 97-mph fastball. Ruben Tejada on an 87-mph slider. Michael Conforto on an 85-mph changeup, and so on and so forth down the line. Scherzer mixed up his pitches expertly en route to his second no-hitter of the season. More >
"You're in sync with your mechanics and you're in sync with the catcher and what you want to do," Scherzer said of the nine straight strikeouts. "You have a feeling what the out pitch is and you're reading swings, reading what they're doing and just trying to execute pitches around that."
Yunel E-scobar: The one ball that prevented Scherzer from achieving perfect-game immortality was a relatively routine bouncer to third. The ball ate up Escobar, who recovered in enough time to potentially throw out slow-moving catcher Plawecki at first. But Escobar's throw bounced well in front of first base and Robinson could not pick it, resulting in an error.
"Yuni goes out there and competes as hard as anybody," Scherzer said. "I'm sure he doesn't feel good about it. Look, we are Major Leaguers. ... He battles through injuries. Nothing but the utmost respect for him. The play just didn't get made."
Ramos behind the plate: Ramos became the 14th catcher to be behind the plate for three no-hitters. The first one was Jordan Zimmermann's gem in 2014 against the Marlins, and Ramos was also behind the plate for Scherzer's no-hitter against the Pirates back in June of this year. More >
"I was trying to find a way to throw the cutter to lefties," Scherzer said. "We found some situations where we needed it. [Ramos] did a good job of calling it. I never shook to it. He called it. We threw a couple tonight and I was able to execute it. We were able to throw some changeups when we needed to. We threw some early curveballs where we needed to. He knew the pitches he was calling. I trusted him in different situations."
Harvey also stellar: In his final tuneup before what is likely to be an NLDS Game 3 start, Harvey struck out 11 over six innings. The only damage against him was an unearned run that scored after Johnson committed a fielding error at third base with no outs in the sixth. Though Harvey will only start once in the NLDS, he plans to be completely unrestricted in every postseason game he pitches.
"All the innings talk, I think I'm done talking about that," Harvey said. "I think everybody's kind of sick of that. We're concentrating on the playoffs. I think we're all ready to go."
"I'm not Elias, but this has got to be the first playoff series with two teams that have gotten no-hit twice, right?"
-- Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer, on the upcoming Mets-Dodgers NLDS. It will indeed be the first playoff meeting of two such teams. More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Scherzer became the eighth pitcher to throw a no-hitter against the Mets in their history. Scherzer also became the second to pitch a no-hitter against the Mets this year. Chris Heston of the Giants threw one on June 9.
The Mets became the fourth team to be no-hit at home twice in the same season. The others were the 2001 Padres, the 1973 Tigers and the 1971 Reds.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
In the second inning, the Nationals' Wilmer Difo hit a slow roller and thought he beat it out, but he was called out on the play by first-base umpire Jim Wolf. But the Nationals asked for a review of the play. After one minute and 17 seconds, the call was reversed and Difo had an infield single. Difo, who slid headfirst into the bag, left the game soon after.
Nationals: The Nationals play their last game of the season at 3:10 p.m. ET on Sunday. Tanner Roark will make the start for Washington. In his last start, Roark allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings against the Braves.
Mets: Jacob deGrom will finish off the Mets' regular season against the Nationals at Citi Field. Considering he is scheduled to start NLDS Game 1 against the Dodgers just five days later, deGrom will not take on a full workload in Sunday's game; expect something in the neighborhood of a 90-pitch tuneup.
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