Watching Scherzer’s No-Hitter Was A Special, Stressful, And Unforgettable Experience
I sat glued to my seat on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park. It was a sweltering day in DC, but that had little to do with the reason I was almost literally stuck in my chair. Max Scherzer was on the mound, and that’s all I needed to be excited.
After an outing that was nearly a no-hitter just six games earlier, Scherzer took the mound to assert his dominance over another National League team. He faced a Pirates team in the midst of an incredibly hot streak, but Scherzer hadn’t heard the news.
After his six-pitch first inning, I sat in my seat, next to my friends, and thought, “oh, this could be one of those nights again.” I didn’t dare speak those words, on the off chance I was ejected from my seat unceremoniously for the blasphemous thoughts I had turned into words. As the game wore on, I realized that everyone sitting around me was fully aware of what was happening on the mound and on the scoreboard. Jovial conversations among friends turned into long, nervous silences.
In the third, Michael A. Taylor made a play at the wall that probably didn’t save a home run off the bat of Jordy Mercer, but it absolutely saved an extra base hit. I stood. I cheered. I thought, “this is the play that you need if you’re going to see history.” I was excited, and I was wrong.
The play that I’d been looking for belonged to a player whose career has experienced a resurgence in 2015: Danny Espinosa. It was a slow roller from Pedro Alvarez in the seventh, who the Nationals had over shifted the entire game, that created the moment that Nats fans will forever remember as the no-hitter-saving play. Anthony Rendon dove, Espinosa gloved and threw from deep on the outfield grass. More than one person within earshot admitted to blacking out in the moment. “Did that really happen?!” Expletives flew. That was the play, in fact, not the Taylor catch, that a team needs to experience history. Espinosa made the play that Rendon was unable to make five days earlier, leaving history in tact.
The ninth inning was full of anxiety, and everyone had their own moments and their own coping mechanisms. Some sat, most stood. People clutched their hands, their faces, the hands of others, their drinks, whatever was close, really. At this point, none of the 41,104 were unaware of what was happening in that ballpark. I lost the feeling in my hands and toes. I tried to appreciate the moment, but I’ve realized there is no way to truly appreciate what is happening in a moment like that. The gravity of the circumstances hit you over time, like waves of emotions as you begin to comprehend what you’ve witnessed.
I’ve spent a lot of years writing about baseball. I’ve spend many, many more years watching and appreciating baseball. There are writers and fans that have watched the game for decades without experiencing what I was lucky enough to see at Nationals Park on Saturday afternoon, and I’m not sure that the sensation I felt as Taylor closed his glove on a routine flyout for the 27th out will ever leave me. I sit here trying to comprehend and document the history that I’ve witnessed, and I’m not sure I’m even doing it justice.
Scherzer, the Nationals’ $210 million man, has thrown two consecutive shutouts. He’s allowed one hit, a bloop over Rendon’s head nearly a week ago, in 18 innings. He’s struck out 26 batters. He has been superhuman. I was simply lucky enough to have a ticket to the game where he joined Jordan Zimmermann as the only Nationals pitchers to throw a no-hitter. It was a truly spectacular experience that is difficult to express in words.
Suffice it to say, I’m not sure I’ll ever forget the afternoon on June 20, 2015, when I sat with friends and experienced one of the seminal moments in a baseball fan’s life.