Scherzer barely misses per­fec­tion

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - WASHINGTON 5 PITTSBURGH 0

Na­tion­als right-han­der set­tles for a no-hitter af­ter hit­ting a Pittsburgh bat­ter with two outs in the ninth in­ning.

WASHINGTON — Only one strike from a per­fect game, Max Scherzer saw it slip away with a mis­placed slider. Or, some thought, a mis­placed el­bow.

Scherzer lost his bid in ag­o­niz­ing fash­ion, plunk­ing a bat­ter with two outs in the ninth in­ning be­fore fin­ish­ing off a no-hitter Satur­day in the Washington Na­tion­als’ 6-0 vic­tory over the Pittsburgh Pi­rates. Alet down? Yeah, a lit­tle. “I mean there is, just be­cause you’re so close, one strike away from a per­fect game,” he said. “But to get a no-hitter in front of these fans, there’s noth­ing bet­ter.”

Pinch-hitter Jose Ta­bata was all that stood be­tween Scherzer and pitch­ing’s ul­ti­mate achieve­ment. Ta­bata fouled off three 2-and-2 de­liv­er­ies, then seemed to slightly drop his left el­bow and got nicked.

Scherzer gri­maced as the ball ric­o­cheted to the ground.

“He tried to throw me a slider in­side,” Ta­bata said. “The slider, no break­ing. I stayed right there and it got me.”

Catcher Wil­son Ramos had a dif­fer­ent view.

“His el­bow was a lit­tle bit in the strike zone. That’s what I sawin the videos. But it’s hap­pened,” he said.

Scherzer came within one strike of throw­ing the 22nd per­fect game in ma­jor league history since1900.

Scherzer (8-5) re­tired Josh Har­ri­son on a deep fly to left field for the fi­nal out and was swal­lowed up by ju­bi­lant Na­tion­als near the mound.

“Pretty easy to do,” Scherzer said of keep­ing his cool. “Prob­a­bly took two sec­onds. I re­al­ized I lost the per­fect game.

“You just move on. Fin­ish this thing out.”

The 30-year-old righthander struck out 10 bat­ters in his sec­ond con­sec­u­tive dom­i­nant per­for­mance, and was cheered by a crowd of 41,104.

In his pre­vi­ous start, Scherzer took a per­fect game into the sev­enth in­ning at Mil­wau­kee and fin­ished with a one-hitter and 16 strike­outs.

Rob Carr Getty Im­ages

MAX SCHERZER ac­knowl­edges the crowd at Na­tion­als Park.

Alex Bran­don As­so­ci­ated Press

PITCHER MAX SCHERZER and catcherWil­son Ramos celebrate no-hitter against Pittsburgh.

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