FLUSHING, N.Y. - Max Scherzer became just the sixth pitcher in Major League Baseball history to throw two no-hitters in the same season in the game’s storied history.
But do you know how close he was to tossing two perfect games? How about Jose Tabata’s dropped elbow and Yunel Escobar’s skipped throw across the diamond. That close to baseball immortality.
Of course you’ll remember Scherzer just one strike away from perfection against the Pirates on June 20 at Nationals Park when Tabata infamously leaned his armor-guarded elbow into an inside slider. That ruined Scherzer’s prefect game bid, but he closed out his first career no-hitter when Josh Harrison followed with a fly out to Michael A. Taylor.
Fast forward to last night where Scherzer was blitzing through the Mets lineup when Kevin Plawecki led off the sixth with a routine ground ball to Nationals third baseman Yunel Escobar. Escobar fielded it cleanly, but his sidearm throw was a few feet short and first baseman Clint Robinson wasn’t able to scoop the ball, allowing Plawecki to reach safely.
Scherzer, who was gaining strength, proceeded to retire the next 12 hitters in order - including nine straight strikeouts - recording his second no-hitter of the year.
Scherzer, Robinson and Nationals manager Matt Williams explained their accounts of Escobar’s costly error after the unbelievable feat.
Scherzer: “I had my back turned there, so I didn’t see what happened. I just saw it short-hopped him. Just a play that didn’t get made. Yuni goes out there and competes as hard as anybody. I’m sure he doesn’t feel great about it. Look, we’re major leaguers, especially him. He competes. He battles through injuries, I have nothing but the utmost respect for him. A play just didn’t get made.”
Robinson: “The throw was just low. It was just a tough, in-between hop. When Yunel throws it, the ball kind of moves a little bit when he comes from down low like that, so it’s kind of hard to pick up a spot to where you can go get it. That was a tight game right there. I didn’t want the ball to get by me. I was just trying to keep that runner on first base. If I picked it, great. If not, I just didn’t want him to advance a base.”
Williams: “The throw just came up short. It’s windy out there. It’s cold. And not a lot of action. So as an infielder it can get cold, your hands can get cold. He just came up short on the throw.”
Beyond completing the two no-hitters, Scherzer also carried perfect games into the sixth inning in four games this season. An additional six times, he took a no-hitter into the sixth, finishing off two.