Tag: Max Scherzer

Jose Tabata

No, the Nationals didn’t throw at Jose Tabata for breaking up Max Scherzer’s perfect game


On Saturday, Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata controversially broke up Max Scherzer’s perfect game with two outs in the ninth inning when he was hit by a two-strike slider. Some argued that Tabata intentionally leaned into the pitch. Others argued he should have at least made more of an effort to get out of the way of the pitch. Members of both groups suggested the Nationals should throw at Tabata in his first at-bat on Sunday.

Tabata took his place in the batter’s box in the second inning of Sunday afternoon’s series finale in Washington, D.C. against Gio Gonzalez, treated to a chorus of boos from the home crowd. Gonzalez’s first pitch to Tabata was a 91 MPH fastball over the middle of the plate.

Gonzalez would have been in the wrong for throwing at Tabata. For one, that would simply make him a bad human being, as a batter’s career can end in an instant if he’s hit by a pitch in the wrong area. Moreover, Tabata did nothing wrong in getting hit on Saturday when he faced Scherzer. The logic that getting hit by a pitch to break up Scherzer’s perfect game is “bush league” — as many argued yesterday — is as silly as thinking that Yankees reliever Jose De Paula was bush league for not throwing a meatball to J.D. Martinez this afternoon when he came to the plate in the seventh inning with an opportunity to have a four-homer game. He flew out to right field instead. Should the Tigers have thrown at one of the Yankees? Or maybe Bryan Holaday — who hit directly behind Martinez — should have kicked a clump of dirt around home plate into Yankees catcher Brian McCann’s face?

Unwritten rules are dumb, you guys.

Settling the Score: Saturday’s results

Jose Oquendo, Randal Grichuk

Baseball’s top team is having a blast in Philadelphia.

Randal Grichuk homered twice and John Lackey hurled seven innings of one-run ball as the Cardinals routed the Phillies on Saturday for the second night in a row. Friday’s score was 12-4. Saturday’s was 10-1.

St. Louis boasts the very best run differential in MLB at +84 and the best record at 45-23. Philadelphia has the worst run differential (by a wide margin) at -129 and Sunday’s matchup of Michael Wacha vs. Adam Morgan doesn’t bode well for a quick bounceback.

With the Pirates getting no-hit Saturday by Max Scherzer and the Nationals, the Cardinals’ lead in the National League Central is back up to six games.

If the Cardinals play .500 ball the rest of the way, they will still finish the season with 92 wins. Hack that. Or something.

Your box scores and AP recaps from Saturday …

Orioles 5, Blue Jays 3

Rangers 2, White Sox 3

Cubs 4, Twins 1 (10 innings)

Angels 1, Athletics 4

Pirates 0, Nationals 6

Brewers 1, Rockies 5

Cardinals 10, Phillies 1

Rays 4, Indians 1

Red Sox 4, Royals 7

Mets 4, Braves 6

Marlins 5, Reds 0

Tigers 3, Yankees 14

Giants 6, Dodgers 2

Astros 3, Mariners 6

Padres 8, Diamondbacks 1

How good has Max Scherzer been lately?

Max Scherzer

On Saturday, Nationals starter Max Scherzer tossed a 16-strikeout, one-hit shutout against the Brewers. One would have been betting smart money on a lesser follow-up in Saturday’s start against the Pirates. Instead, Scherzer came one strike away from a perfect game before settling for a no-hitter with 10 strikeouts.

If you’re counting at home, in his last 18 innings, Scherzer has allowed exactly zero runs, allowed one hit, walked one batter, and struck out 26. Along with the hit batsman, that’s three base runners in the span of two complete games. That’s quite a rare feat, as Trent McCotter, the vice chairman of the SABR records committee points out:

Max Scherzer: pretty good at throwing baseballs.

Jose Tabata is at no fault for ending Max Scherzer’s bid for a perfect game

Jose Tabata

Jose Tabata pinch-hit for Pirates reliever Vance Worley with two outs in the ninth inning, the only man standing between Max Scherzer and the 24th perfect game in baseball history. Scherzer was absolutely dealing and Tabata didn’t look like he was having any fun trying to make contact. He fouled off the first two pitches, worked the count back to 2-2, weakly fouled off three more pitches, and then was hit on his left elbow by a slider.

The video below shows what happened:

Rule 6.08b says:

The batter becomes a runner and is entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base) when —


(b) He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (1) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (2) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball;
If the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a strike, whether or not the batter tries to avoid the ball. If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.

Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy thinks Tabata wasn’t at fault, tweeting, “looked like a totally normal reaction from a hitter to an inside breaking ball- why the hate?”

Scherzer threw an 86 MPH slider. At 60 feet, six inches, a batter has less than a half-second with which to react. Considering how much movement Scherzer’s slider has, and how far away the pitch actually was from the strike zone, it’s perfectly reasonable that Tabata would get hit by it and not appear to have made much of an effort in getting out of the way.

But let’s play devil’s advocate here. Let’s say that Tabata intentionally leaned into the pitch to ruin Scherzer’s perfect game. He did it and got away with it, as home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski didn’t interject. How is that any different than a catcher framing a ball outside of the strike zone to increase the probability of a strike call? Both players are attempting to exploit a gray area in order to maximize their teams’ odds of winning.

Some have argued that Tabata should have been up at the plate with the intent of breaking up Scherzer’s perfect game with a hit. Why? Perfect games are special because they’re so hard to attain; they would start to lose their luster if we pressure players into ending them in only certain, approved ways. There have been 24 in baseball history, only a slightly more common occurrence than a four-homer game. If a player has hit three home runs and takes his next at-bat, do we expect the pitcher to throw him a meatball to make his attempt to make baseball history easier? No, the pitcher goes at the hitter with everything he has.

Furthermore, the game was not a done deal. In 999,999 of 1,000,000 iterations of the game state after Tabata was hit — two outs, one on, down by six — the Pirates lose, but Tabata should still have been trying to play for a win irrespective of Scherzer’s bid for a perfect game. His job is to get on base. If that includes getting hit by a pitch at the expense of Scherzer’s perfect game, so be it.

Some have advocated the Nationals throw at Tabata in Sunday’s series finale. Tabata did nothing wrong. That disappointment should be directed at more deserving targets, such as Scherzer for making a poor pitch.

Tabata talks about ending Scherzer’s perfect game:

Scherzer says he doesn’t fault Tabata and would have done the same thing in his position.

Video: Max Scherzer completes his no-hitter against the Pirates

Max Scherzer

It was a bittersweet afternoon for Max Scherzer as he was one strike away from completing baseball’s 24th perfect game. After hitting Jose Tabata, Scherzer settled for a no-hitter, getting Josh Harrison to fly out to end the game.

Scherzer struck out 10 batters on the afternoon for his sixth double-digit strikeout game of the season. He’s 8-5 with a 1.76 ERA, a 0.80 WHIP, and a 123/14 K/BB ratio in 102 1/3 innings. Not a bad way to start the first year of a seven-year, $210 million contract.