Nine months later, Johnson found himself with a different view of history. Now with the Nats but on the disabled list, Johnson watched from the Washington dugout on Saturday as Max Scherzer came within one out of a perfect game before finishing off a no-hitter against the Pirates, as the Nationals won, 6-0.
"The last inning when he's walking out there and the crowd stands up and starts getting crazy, I'm like, 'Man, this is all too familiar, but I was on the other side last year,'" Johnson said. "It's a little more fun when you're on the good side of things."
Scherzer's teammates have enjoyed his dominant pitching throughout the year, and no performance was more thrilling than Saturday's, whether they took it in from the field or the dugout.
"Every time the guy grabs the ball, he's on the verge of something," said shortstop Ian Desmond.
Complete coverage: Max Scherzer no-hitter"You see some crazy swings by professional hitters," said first baseman Tyler Moore, who was on the field for the end of Zimmermann's no-no. "Sometimes I feel like they don't have a chance."
Johnson has witnessed a lot of good pitching over his 13 big league seasons. He played behind Carlos Zambrano when Zambrano threw a no-hitter for the Cubs on Sept. 14, 2008, against Houston. Johnson still found himself in awe of Scherzer's effort, which came on the heels of a 16-strikeout one-hitter in Milwaukee.
Rookie pitcher Joe Ross has only been in the big leagues for two weeks, so for him it was a new experience. As the game went along, Ross could hear the sellout crowd of 41,104 getting louder by the inning. Everyone in the dugout got on the edge of their seats and many leaned against the railing.
Then, with two outs and two strikes, Scherzer hit Jose Tabata to end the perfecto.
"It was like a split second of, 'Dang it,'" Ross said. "Obviously not in those words, but right when [the umpire] said to take first, everyone was like, 'Dang.' And then everybody was cheering him immediately after that: 'Hey, let's go, let's get this last guy -- no-hitter.'"
Josh Harrison followed with a fly ball to left field. Michael Taylor made the catch, and the Nats mobbed Scherzer on the field.
"It was exciting," Ross said. "I felt like I was part of the game, except all I did was sit on the bench and drink water and eat seeds. It was fun. It was a lot of fun."