Max Scherzer has been hotter than the sun lately. Coming into today’s game against the Marlins he had won four of his last five starts while striking out 58 batters in his 40 innings. His stuff has looked electric and you get the sense that he could no-hit the opposition any time out.
He looked that way again against the Marlins, no-hitting them through the first seven innings of the game. He struck out ten batters through those seven innings and then led off the eighth by making Derek Dietrich victim number 11. With A.J. Ellis and the bottom of the order coming up after that, Scherzer looked to be in control.
Baseball, however, had other ideas.
Scherzer got two strikes on A.J. Ellis, who hit a comebacker to the mound. Scherzer reached up for it, but only got a piece of it, deflecting the ball upward with his glove. It arced back to shortstop Trea Turner, but slowly. He would’ve had to barehand it perfectly to throw out even the slow Ellis, but he couldn’t get a handle on it. Ellis reached and it was ruled an infield single. It was the right ruling.
That was a nice effort for Scherzer, but the game was not over yet. The Nats only led 1-0 at the time. While Scherzer was up over 100 pitches by then, Dusty Baker stuck with him. Probably because he believed Scherzer had something left in the tank — which was fair given that Ellis did not hit him hard — but also because, one suspects, the Nats bullpen has been extraordinarily unreliable lately and Scherzer was still his best bet to win the game.
Then this happened:
- JT Riddle grounded out, advancing Ellis to second;
- Pinch hitter J.T. Realmuto grounded to short. Trea Turner’s throw to first was not great, but first baseman Adam Lind should’ve scooped it up. He didn’t, Realmuto was safe and Lind was charged with an error. It was the right call. Ryan Zimmerman gets that ball. In any event, runners were on the corners, with Jose Urena pinch running for Ellis;
- Scherzer was visibly frustrated by now, and he was also getting tired. He hit Dee Gordon on the foot with a pitch to load the bases;
- Then Scherzer uncorked a wild pitch and Ureña scored, tying the game;
- Giancarlo Stanton singled to left, scoring Realmuto to give the Marlins a 2-1 lead. Gordon was thrown out on the play after the run scored.
In the top of the ninth the Nats got a single, but that was it. The final batter, Lind, struck out on a called third strike to end the game. The pitch was almost in the right-handed hitter’s batter’s box. Scherzer barked at home plate umpire Dana DeMuth, clearing saying that DeMuth hadn’t called that pitch all game.
Life comes at you fast. One moment you’re five outs from a no-hitter, the next you get the L. Tough break, Max.