NO- NO NO. 2 FOR SCHERZER

Scherzer caps his first sea­son with the Na­tion­als with a sec­ond no-hitter as he strikes out 17 and walks none while dom­i­nat­ing the Mets

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHELSEA JANES

The Na­tion­als’ ace be­comes the first pitcher to throw two no-hit­ters in the reg­u­lar sea­son since Nolan Ryan in 1973, strik­ing out 17 against the Mets, in­clud­ing nine of the fi­nal 10 bat­ters he faced.

A few min­utes af­ter Max Scherzer threw his sec­ond no-hitter of the sea­son, af­ter his Washington Na­tion­als team­mates drenched him in what tasted to him like some com­bi­na­tion of beer and cho­co­late sauce in the visi­tor’s club­house at Citi Field, he sat at a ta­ble in a news con­fer­ence room in a red Na­tion­als T-shirt and his Na­tion­als cap. Both stood out against the royal blue back­ground be­hind him, which was cov­ered in Mets lo­gos, a fit­ting snap­shot of the com­pli­cated con­text in which Scher- zer made history Satur­day night with a 2-0 win in the sec­ond game of a dou­ble­header.

No one had thrown two no-hit­ters in a reg­u­lar sea­son since Nolan Ryan in 1973 be­fore Scherzer did it Satur­day night. No Na­tion­als pitcher had struck out 17 hit­ters in one game, nor nine in a row, be­fore Scherzer did that, too.

“Speech­less,” said Scherzer, pre­sented with those facts, al­ready the team’s sin­gle­sea­son strike­out king, now the first man in four decades to be so dom­i­nant. “You go out there and try to ac­com­plish as much as you

have as much suc­cess as you can, but to be talk­ing about that stuff, you don’t even have words for it.”

Ear­lier Satur­day, Man­ager Matt Wil­liams faced ques­tions about whether or not he’d lost the club­house. A week be­fore, the team he was sup­posed to lift to a World Se­ries ti­tle was elim­i­nated from play­off con­tention. Six days ago, one of his team­mates tried to choke another. Five days ear­lier, Scherzer nearly threw a no-hitter. Satur­day, he did it, though as he re­flected on the mo­ment, the Mets lo­gos be­hind him served as re­minders that while he gave the Na­tion­als one mem­o­rable night in Oc­to­ber, they were sup­posed to have far more.

“That’s why this is bit­ter­sweet,” Scherzer said. “We wish we were play­ing longer into Oc­to­ber, but we’re not.”

But while the game that car­ried lit­tle mean­ing to the Na­tion­als, Scherzer made it mat­ter. As fiery as ever, stomp­ing around the mound as vig­or­ously as he did against the Mets when they beat him at Na­tion­als Park on open­ing day, he sucked up the chaos and re­placed it with magic, paint­ing a try­ing fi­nal week with a coat­ing of hope.

The Mets did not start their reg­u­lars, though they threw them all at Scherzer in the ninth, at which point he had al­ready struck out 15 bat­ters, seven straight. He struck out pinch hit­ting Yoe­nis Ce­s­pedes — eight straight, a Na­tion­als record. He struck out Lu­cas Duda, his 17th of the game, a team record, a ca­reer high. Then Curtis Gran­der­son popped out to Yunel Es­co­bar — whose er­ror proved the dif­fer­ence be­tween a no-hitter and per­fec­tion— to end it.

“That’s where I had to check my­self and say, hey, stay within your­self,” Scherzer said. “Don’t let the in­ten­sity, the mo­ment get to big. Just do what you do.”

Scherzer shoved dis­ap­point­ment away for a night — one that ended with his arms in the air, charg­ing to­ward Wil­son Ramos to do the duo’s hand­shake, the one they do be­fore each game, the one they did on that warm sum­mer’s af­ter­noon in June. Ramos has caught three no-hit­ters since the end of last sea­son.

“That was amaz­ing for him,” Ramos said.

The Na­tion­als lineup that backed him did not in­clude most reg­u­lars, in­clud­ing Bryce Harper, whose 42nd home run of the sea­son lifted the Na­tion­als to a 3-1 win in the af­ter­noon game. Noah Syn­der­gaard hit Harper in the shin with a 97 mph fast­ball in the sixth in­ning. Though he hit a tworun homer to right in the eighth de­spite the pain, he was not able to play game two, so will head to the fi­nal day of the sea­son with 42 home runs and 99 RBI.

So with­out Harper, and rest­ing Jayson Werth, An­thony Ren­don and Ian Desmond, Scherzer car­ried the Na­tion­als. He be­came the first Na­tion­als pitcher to throw two no-hit­ters as a Na­tional, first to throw two no-hit­ters in a sin­gle sea­son, and sec­ond to throw one on the fi­nal week­end of the sea­son. Jor­dan Zim­mer­mann did that last year.

No one reached against Scher- zer un­til the sixth, when Mets’ catcher Kevin Plawecki hit a ground ball to deep third. Es­co­bar hes­i­tated, then threw low to first - an er­ror, which ended Scherzer’s chance at a per­fect game. Re­plays showed Scherzer, in­com­pa­ra­bly com­pet­i­tive, yelling frus­tra­tions about the play into the chilly New York air, though the near-40 mile per hour winds swirling around Citi Field al­most cer­tainly car­ried the sen­ti­ments Es­co­bar’s di­rec­tion.

“Just a play that just didn’t get made,” Scherzer said. “Yuni goes out there and com­petes as hard as any­body, I know that. I’m sure he doesn’t feel great about it.”

But pinch-hitter Daniel Mur­phy grounded out. Then Scherzer struck out lead­off man Curtis Gran­der­son to en­sure his no-hitter would last into the sev­enth, when he struck out the side. Pitch count has threat­ened his mas­ter­pieces be­fore. Satur­day night, he had thrown 80 pitches head­ing to the eighth, plenty left to fin­ish history.

The Na­tion­als un­fa­mil­iar lineup was not tested much oth­er­wise de­fen­sively, no su­per­hu­man feats re­quired. It pro­vided enough of­fen­sively, too, thanks to Ramos’s sixth-in­ning sac fly and Dan Ug­gla’s sev­enth-in­ning homer — his first since a mag­i­cal night in April, sec­ond of the sea­son. Matt Har­vey nearly out­du­eled Scherzer early, strik­ing out 10 bat­ters in five in­nings. He left af­ter al­low­ing an un­earned run on four hits in six, a bril­liant per­for­mance that would have been the story on most nights in New York— but not this one.

“I’m proud to be a part of it,” Wil­liams said.

The Na­tion­als will fin­ish this sea­son with a win­ning record, their win in the first game en­sured that. They will also fin­ish with hope and un­ex­pected joy. Dis­ap­point­ment and de­ba­cle con­sumed them this week. Even Scherzer’s un­think­able dom­i­nance couldn’t save their sea­son. But for one night, he re­deemed it.

AL BELLO/GETTY IM­AGES

Max Scherzer is con­grat­u­lated by catcher Wil­son Ramos af­ter get­ting Curtis Gran­der­son to pop up to third base­man Yunel Es­co­bar for the fi­nal out of a no-hitter. Scherzer had struck out the nine pre­vi­ous bat­ters.

ANDY MAR­LIN/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Na­tion­als ace­Max Scherzer be­comes the first ma­jor league pitcher sinceHall of Famer Nolan Ryan in 1973 to throw two no-hit­ters in the same reg­u­lar sea­son.

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