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Small mistakes add up for Scherzer in Nats loss, blown no-hitter bid

Small mistakes add up for Scherzer in Nats loss, blown no-hitter bid

The margin of error for any pitcher in the big leagues is slim and even more so when their offense is trudging through one of its worst run-scoring slumps of the season.

Max Scherzer nearly had enough to overcome that on Tuesday night, as the Nats ace was perfect through 4 2/3 innings and took a no-hitter into the seventh. But small, uncharacteristic mistakes made the difference and led to his seventh loss of the season, this a tough-luck defeat.

Scherzer's only real mistakes came in that seventh inning when he gave up two runs, one of them earned. He had Franicsco Lindor at two strikes before the Indians All-Star smacked a single up the middle. Scherzer can live with that. What happened next, though, may keep him up at night.

With Jose Ramirez at the plate, Scherzer spun around for a pickoff attempt at first and sailed the throw to far to Daniel Murphy's right. It skipped into foul territory and give Lindor enough time to go all the way to third.

That set up an RBI double by Ramirez to put the Indians up 1-0.

"I know Lindor's a very good base runner. We had just picked over previously. I showed my B move, then tried to come with a little quicker move," Scherzer explained. "That's something that can't happen. I have to be in control of that. I can't throw the ball away. Murph has no shot at catching that ball. It's just something that I messed up, and that cost me the game."

Lindor's run went down as unearned because an error allowed him to advance, even though it was Scherzer's mistake. The earned run he gave up was after Ramirez stole third and then scored on a single by Lonnie Chisenhall.

Scherzer was removed after that seventh inning and finished with just three hits and one walk allowed. He struck out 10 batters for the 10th time this season. 

Those were just some of the highlights of a game that was mostly a very good one for Scherzer. It was the eighth time he's taken a no-hitter into at least the sixth inning in his 57 starts for the Nats. He's completed the task twice before and this time he was again thinking about going the distance.

"Once you make it through six, you got a shot. I threw the ball really well tonight. It was the little things that beat me," he said.

Scherzer has had many battles with the Indians in the past, but not since 2014, his last season with the Detroit Tigers. They have given him some trouble over the years, particularly with lefty-heavy lineups.

This time, though, Scherzer could utilize his cut-slider which he's improved since leaving Detroit. He says it's now a gamechanger:

"It's completely changed how I can approach the left-handed lineup. I won't lie. Three years ago, when I had to face the Indians, they load up nine lefties, I knew I was going to be in for a night. I knew it was uncomfortable pitching against that. I've really evolved as a pitcher since then. I've gotten better, the fact that I can use my curveball now, and the cut-slider gives me four pitches I can throw at left-handed hitters and really keep everything different multiple times through the lineup. That allows me, when I face a team like the Indians and the left-handed power that they have, to really combat that and really go out there with a plan to execute pitches multiple times through the lineup."

Scherzer has now gone at least seven innings in seven of his last eight starts with just nine total earned runs allowed during that stretch. On Tuesday, he lowered his season ERA to 2.80, just one tick away from the career-best 2.79 mark he compiled last year. 

The Nats' offense may be lagging behind, but Scherzer is pitching his best ball of the season as the pennant race is close to heating up.

[RELATED: Nats' Harper shut down from baseball activities]

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With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

With Ross placed on 60-day DL, Nationals agree to 1-year deal with veteran reliever

WASHINGTON  -- The Washington Nationals say they have agreed to a one-year deal with 40-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit.

The team announced the move Wednesday, along with placing pitcher Joe Ross on the 60-day disabled list as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in July.

The Nationals didn't release terms of the agreement, though a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Monday that it was for $1 million.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the deal wasn't official at the time.

MORE NATIONALS: FULL 2018 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

Benoit is a right-hander who first reached the big leagues in 2001. 

He has played for eight teams, finishing last year with Pittsburgh.

He has 764 career appearances, going 58-49 with a 3.83 ERA and 53 saves.

RELATED: 2018 MLB BETTING ODDS

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It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

It's Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE