We are counting down the 10 biggest moments of 2015 for the Nationals as we approach New Year's Day. In the sixth installment, we look back at the first no-hitter Max Scherzer threw this season against the Pittsburgh Pirates...
If a perfect game has been accomplished 23 times in MLB history, then what Max Scherzer did on June 20 against the Pittsburgh Pirates was technically more rare. He came as close one possibly can get to being perfect without closing the deal. He was just one strike away.
There were two outs in the ninth and two strikes when Scherzer threw a slider that barely nicked Jose Tabata's elbow. Scherzer became just the second pitcher ever to lose a perfect game with two outs in the ninth by hitting a batter. It hadn't been done since 1908. Only 12 other times has a pitcher lost a perfect game after recording 26 outs.
Scherzer would get his first no-hitter, as Josh Harrison flew out to left in the next at-bat. That made Scherzer just the third pitcher ever to lose a perfect game after 8 2/3 innings, yet still accomplish a no-hitter.
That provided for an interesting dynamic at Nationals Park that day, for Scherzer, his teammates and the fans. There was the intensity and buildup of a perfect game bid before the letdown of it slipping away. Then, just seconds later, Scherzer got his no-no, just the second no-hitter in Nationals history and the first of his career. There was celebration, then disappointment, then celebration.
Of course, Scherzer was disappointed himself that he didn't secure perfection, but he was still able to enjoy what was until that point the best performance of his career. And it just happened to come with his parents in town to celebrate Father's Day. Scherzer's family was originally planning to visit Washington on July 4, but pushed their trip up due to a conflict. How fortunate for them.
Scherzer technically put in an even more impressive outing in October of 2015 with his second no-hitter, a 17-strikeout masterpiece that ranks as the second-greatest pitching game of all-time based on Bill James' game score. But this one ranks higher for this particular list given it happened first and given it was so close to being a perfect game.
Scherzer also happened to do it against a Pirates team that had won eight of their previous nine games and ended up with 98 wins on the season. He no-hit one of the best teams - based on their regular season record - in recent years.
Scherzer's first no-hitter will go down as one of the best days in Nationals history and one that was very close to being something even better.
More from the countdown: