Sen­sa­tional Scherzer

No-hits Car­di­nals through 6 as Na­tion­als take 2-0 se­ries lead

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS - By Jay Co­hen

Max Scherzer was strength and fire. Ani­bal Sanchez was artistry and de­cep­tion.

Two dif­fer­ent styles, two ab­so­lute gems for the Na­tion­als.

Scherzer fol­lowed Sanchez’s near no­hit­ter with a try of his own, and the stingy Na­tion­als beat the Car­di­nals 3-1 on Sat­ur­day for a 2-0 lead in the NL Cham­pi­onship Se­ries.

“We re­ally want to win here,” the hard-charg­ing Scherzer said. “So that’s what’s go­ing to hap­pen, we’re go­ing to com­pete and win.”

Scherzer didn’t al­low a hit un­til Paul Gold­schmidt led off the seventh in­ning with a sin­gle that left fielder Juan Soto played con­ser­va­tively with a 1-0 lead. A day ear­lier, Sanchez held the Car­di­nals hit­less un­til Jose Martinez had a pinch sin­gle with two down in the eighth.

Sanchez and Scherzer also be­gan the 2013 ALCS with con­sec­u­tive no-hit bids of at least five in­nings for the Tigers against the Red Sox. They are the only pitch­ers to ac­com­plish the feat in post­sea­son his­tory.

“For me, I’m just in the mo­ment. I’m not try­ing to do any­thing great. I’m just try­ing to stick within my game,” Scherzer said.

Scherzer, a St. Louis na­tive who played col­lege ball for the Univer­sity of Mis­souri, struck out 11 and walked two in seven in­nings.

It doesn’t get any eas­ier for the Car­di­nals. Ace Stephen Stras­burg gets the ball for the wild-card Na­tion­als when the best-of-seven se­ries moves to Na­tion­als Park for Game 3 on Mon­day night. Jack Fla­herty pitches for the Cards.

“They have a pretty strong ad­van­tage right now,” Car­di­nals right-han­der Adam Wain­wright said. “I’ve got a lot of con­fi­dence in our hit­ters. I think our hit­ters are go­ing to do some­thing spe­cial in Wash­ing­ton.”

The Car­di­nals got an­other solid per­for­mance from Wain­wright, who struck out 11 in 7 1⁄3 in­nings.

But af­ter get­ting only one hit in the opener, the Car­di­nals’ in­con­sis­tent lineup man­aged just three hits against Scherzer and the Na­tion­als bullpen.

“We trust in each other. We’ve been in this po­si­tion be­fore,” Car­di­nals catcher Yadier Molina said.

The NL Cen­tral cham­pi­ons got their first run of the se­ries when cen­ter fielder Michael A. Tay­lor mis­played Martinez’s pinch-hit liner into an RBI dou­ble with two outs in the eighth. But Dex­ter Fowler flied out on Sean Doolit­tle’s next pitch on a tough day to see the ball with the shad­ows from the mid-af­ter­noon start.

Pa­trick Corbin got the first out of the ninth be­fore Daniel Hud­son earned his third save of the play­offs. The right-han­der was re­in­stated from the post­sea­son pa­ter­nity list be­fore the game af­ter he missed the se­ries opener to be with his wife, Sara, for the birth of their third child.

Corbin is ex­pected to start Game 4 for the Na­tion­als on Tues­day night.

Scherzer, who has pitched two no-hit­ters in the reg­u­lar sea­son, has a record five ca­reer post­sea­son no-hit bids of at least five in­nings, ac­cord­ing to the Elias Sports Bureau. The three-time Cy Young Award win­ner came clos­est to fin­ish­ing in Game 3 of the 2017 NL Di­vi­sion Se­ries, get­ting one out in the seventh in­ning be­fore al­low­ing a hit.

There have only been two post­sea­son no-hit­ters. Don Larsen threw a per­fect game for the Yan­kees against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Se­ries, and Roy Hal­la­day pitched a no-hit­ter for the Phillies in the 2010 NL Di­vi­sion Se­ries.

“It’s a good ball­club, but we’ve got great pitch­ers,” Tay­lor said. “They went out and ex­e­cuted pitch af­ter pitch.”

The Car­di­nals got one baserun­ner into scor­ing po­si­tion while Scherzer was on the mound. Kolten Wong walked with one out in the first and stole sec­ond, but Gold­schmidt and Mar­cell Ozuna struck out.

JAMIE SQUIRE/GETTY

The Na­tion­als’ Max Scherzer car­ried a no-hit­ter through six in­nings on Sat­ur­day.

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