The number two game of the season on our countdown features Max Scherzer’s first no-hitter of the season, which ended with a little bit of controversy.
We continue our top ten games countdown of the 2015 Washington Nationals season by looking at number two on our list. This was a game between the Nats and the Pittsburgh Pirates that took place on June 20 at Nats Park. On this date, Max Scherzer made history by following up a one-hitter in Milwaukee with the first of his two no-hitters.
The Nationals would score their first run in the bottom of the fourth inning against Pirates’ starter, Francisco Liriano. With one out, Bryce Harper got the scoring started by hitting a solo shot to dead center field for his 23rd home run of the season.
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Two innings later, the Nats would break the game open by putting up four runs. With one out, Denard Span stuck out, but wss able to reach first base because of a wild pitch. After Span stole second, Anthony Rendon hit a double to left to put the Nats up 2-0. Then, Harper drove in his second run of the day when he singled to left to extend the lead to 3-0.
Later in the inning, with Harper on third and Wilson Ramos on second, Tyler Moore drove them both in with a single to right to give the Nationals a 5-0 lead and end Liriano’s afternoon. The Pirates’ left-hander gave up five runs on seven hits and struck out six over 5.2 innings in the loss. The final scoring play of the day was in the seventh inning when Vance Worley threw a wild pitch that allowed Rendon to score. With the score 6-0, the focus was now completely on Scherzer as he tried to make history.
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Pittsburgh only had two big chances to break up history. In the third, Jordy Mercer hit a ball deep to left field, but Michael Taylor made the catch against the wall. Then, with two outs in the eighth, Pedro Alvarez hit a ground ball that went past a diving Ian Desmond. But, because of the shift, Danny Espinosa, who was in shallow right field, was able to get Alvarez out to end the inning and preserve perfection.
Then, in the ninth inning, Scherzer had a 0-2 count on Jose Tabata. After Tabata drew the count to 2-2, Scherzer threw a slider that hit him in the elbow. While the replay showed that the Pirates’ pinch-hitter might have leaned into the pitch, the perfect game was over. But, Scherzer finished the no-hitter when he got Josh Harrison to fly out to left field.
On the afternoon, Scherzer struck out ten batters after striking out 16 in the start prior against Milwaukee, when he had taken a no-no into the seventh inning. The Nats’ ace threw 106 pitches with 82 of them being strikes. If you count the Brewers’ start, he had 26 strikeouts over the course of two games. In his next start against the Phillies, Scherzer was 11 outs away from back-to-back no-hitters, but Freddy Galvis doubled to right in the sixth.