For the penultimate game of the Washington Nationals’ 2015 season they traveled north and braved the rain to play the NL East Division Champion New York Mets. Despite the season (and Matt Williams’ managerial career) being essentially over, there was still plenty to root for as Max Scherzer faced off against Matt Harvey (not shut down? But shut down? But not again?) in a game that started as a pitching duel but turned into something far more historic. More on that in a few.
Aside from the pitching performance, fans were treated to a classic game-161-post-doubleheader-already-eliminated-Nats lineup that featured Trea Turner, Tyler Moore, newly surging slugger Matt den Dekker, as well as Wilmer Difo making his first career start.
But none of that mattered as Nationals ace Scherzer threw his second no-hitter of the year (the first pitcher to do so in the regular season since Nolan Ryan of the 1973 California Angels [not of Anaheim]).
After an utterly dominant start last time out against the Cincinnati Reds (8.0 IP. 2 H. 1 R. 3 BB. 10 K.), there was something in the air in Flushing and it was not sewage. Scherzer dialed up his own Saturday Night Special at Citi Field as he put together one of the most dominating statistical performances in Major League Baseball history: 9 IP. 0 H. 0 R. 0 BB. 17 K. From the beginning it was evident that Scherzer had “it” – the electric no-hit stuff that we have seen from Max several times this season.
There are countless statistics and trivia questions that will be tweeted and written about over the next few weeks and months but I would like to sum up a few of them right here:
All-time top Game Scores (nine innings): 105 Kerry Wood 5/6/98 104 Max Scherzer 10/3/15 102 Clayton Kershaw 6/18/04
— Jon Weisman (@jonweisman) October 4, 2015
– To be clear: by Bill James’ Game Score (a statistical measure to judge single game pitching performance), this game was second in baseball history only to Kerry Wood’s 20-strikeout game.
Max Scherzer throws no-hitter vs Mets 1st pitcher in MLB history to throw 2 no-hitters without giving up a walk pic.twitter.com/9BU3PhILIe
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 4, 2015
Scherzer is the first pitcher in baseball history with two 0-H, 0-BB games in a career, let alone a single season. #Nationals
— Baseball Essential (@BB_Essential) October 4, 2015
– The third time through the order Scherzer struck out every single batter he faced – including pinch hitters (not-MVP) Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda. The nine straight strikeouts were a franchise record.
– Watch each of those strikeouts right here:
– Scherzer set a franchise record for strikeouts in a single game – beating his own record.
– He is only the sixth pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a single season.
Max Scherzer is 1st pitcher to throw a no-hitter with at least 17 K and no walks.
— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) October 4, 2015
– In each of his no-hitters, Scherzer got a hit. He is the first pitcher to do so in two no-hitters in a season since Jim Tobin in 1944 (h/t @theaceofspaeder).
– Not to be outshined, Wilson Ramos has caught three no-hitters in the past 161 regular season games; Jordan Zimmermann’s and both Scherzer no-hitters.
Scherzer in 2015 has been nothing short of breathtaking and he has already made his $210 million contract worth it in the eyes of most fans in D.C. On three separate occasions he was as close to perfect as possible; a bloop single off the bat of Carlos Gomez of the Brewers, a Jose Tabata leaned in HBP, and an out-of-position Yunel Escobar throwing error. Instead, he will have to settle with having the TWO of the best game scores in the history of the game – second- and sixth-best.
At the end of a lost season Scherzer delighted fans one more time and gave them something to hang their hats on for the year. Not only have we been witnesses to one of the best offensive seasons of all time by Bryce Harper but we have now seen two of the best individual pitching performances of all time – both by Scherzer. This may not have been the October performance scenario that the Nationals hoped to see from their ace but it was one that will be long remembered in Nationals and MLB history.
For good measure here is Mets MLB.com beat writer and professional troll Anthony DiComo’s scorecard from tonight. Revel in it. Cherish it. You likely won’t ever see anything like this again.
What one of the most dominant no-hitters in history looks like on a scorecard: pic.twitter.com/83AHZjZUlX
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) October 4, 2015