No-hits Cardinals through 6 as Nationals take 2-0 series lead
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.
The Nationals’ Max Scherzer carried a no-hitter through six innings on Saturday.