Scherzer second in franchise to toss 2 no-hitters
Stoneman spun no-no with Expos in 1969 and 1972
With his second no-hitter of the season Saturday against the Mets, Nationals ace Max Scherzer joined Bill Stoneman as the only pitchers to throw multiple no-no's with the franchise.
Stoneman's career lasted only eight years, but in that time he threw two no-hitters to become a permanent part of the Montreal Expos' record books.
There were only four no-hitters thrown by Expos pitchers: Stoneman's two, one by Charlie Lea in 1981, and a perfect game by Dennis Martinez in 1991.
The Nationals kept the team's history after moving to Washington in 2005, and they had a no-hitter thrown by Jordan Zimmermann in 2014, to go along with Scherzer's two in '15. Scherzer's other no-hitter this year came against the Pirates on June 20 at Nationals Park.
The franchise didn't have to wait long for the first no-hitter. On April 17, 1969, the team was just three weeks into its inaugural season and was playing a series in Philadelphia.
Stoneman was scheduled to pitch that Thursday, but Wednesday night's game was rained out, so he assumed that he would be bumped back to Friday.
He didn't find out otherwise until he arrived at the park on Thursday and was told he would be taking the mound. Just a few hours later, he was in the middle of history.
"It wasn't a big crowd. There were maybe 5,000 people on hand," Stoneman said. "But by the middle of the game they'd picked up on what was going on, and even though it was an away crowd, they were making some noise. They wanted to see a no-hitter."
At the time, Stoneman was just in his third year of Major League ball and was relatively inexperienced. He had just two pitches -- a four-seam fastball and a curveball -- which is rare for a starter.
"It's probably a good thing I had no clue how to react," he said. "The further along the game went, the more focused I got."
Going into the top of the ninth inning, he had allowed five walks and struck out six. The heart of the Phillies' order came up, and Stoneman struck out the first two batters. Cleanup hitter Deron Johnson grounded out to end the game and seal a 7-0 victory for the Expos and a no-hitter for Stoneman.
That would be the biggest career achievement for most pitchers, but a small group of them have duplicated that kind of dominance. Stoneman had to wait just three years to join the club.
On Oct. 2, 1972, the Expos were hosting the Mets at Jarry Park, the team's temporary home in Montreal while its stadium was being constructed. The stadium held just 28,000 seats, and it was near-capacity for a Monday evening doubleheader against New York.
Stoneman took the ball for Game 1, but there was no indication that greatness was about to happen. He was just 11-14 on the season, and the Mets had a double-digit lead over the Expos in the NL East standings.
In the fifth inning of the game, Stoneman walked Bill Sudakis to open the inning. The next hitter was former Expo Don Hahn, who was nicknamed "Hondo" by the Montreal fans. He hit a two-hopper right back to the pitcher's mound.
"I put the glove down, and it was like there was a spring in the glove," Stoneman said. "And Hondo was fast, so he made it to first base."
The play was scored as an error, keeping the no-hitter intact.
Stoneman got out of the inning and kept Mets batters from getting a hit during the rest of the 7-0 victory. He struck out nine, and this time around had a wider variety of pitches, including two fastballs, a curveball and a slider.
"Because it was a doubleheader, I remember I was still doing interviews when the second game had started," he said. "My family was there for the game, which was exciting for me."
Stoneman, Lea and Martinez are the only three pitchers to throw a no-hitter in an Expos uniform. Martinez is the most notable name of the three, having pitched in four All-Star Games and three World Series.