Max Scherzer has a non-zero chance of pulling a Vander Meer

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Johnny Vander Meer is the only pitcher in baseball history to throw back-to-back no-hitters, doing so on June 11 and 15 during the 1938 season for the Cincinnati Reds. Long have we thought someone would eventually join Vander Meer, only to be disappointed each and every time.

Max Scherzer no-hit the Pirates on Saturday, a comparatively disappointing result as he was one strike away from a perfect game before he hit Jose Tabata with an errant slider. If ever someone was going to pull a Vander Meer, it’s Scherzer, considering his upcoming match-up. He’s on schedule to open a series in Philadelphia against the lowly Phillies on Friday.

The Phillies entered play Sunday averaging 2.5 runs per game over their last 25 games and rank last or close to last in the league in a slew of offensive categories. Last in batting average (.236), last in on-base percentage (.287), last in slugging percentage (.348), last in home runs (41), third-worst in walks (157). They did manage to score nine runs to beat the Cardinals on Sunday, but it marked only the fourth time all year that they had scored more than six runs. The Phillies are still the worst-hitting team in the league and are among the worst teams of this millennium:

Regardless of how bad the Phillies are, the odds are still overwhelmingly in favor of Scherzer not throwing a no-hitter his next time out. According to the math, he has over a 99 percent chance to give up at least one hit. But this is the best confluence of variables that Scherzer — and we, fans of baseball rarities — could ask for. His next start on Friday in Philly will be must-see TV.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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