Max Scherzer continued to etch his name into baseball history on Saturday, becoming the first hurler since Nolan Ryan in 1973 to record two no-hitters in the same season. He's the sixth pitcher in major league history to accomplish the incredible feat, joining Ryan, Roy Halladay (2010), Virgil Trucks (1952), Allie Reynolds (1951) and Johnny Vander Meer (1938).
In reality, this masterful performance should have been a perfect game. Scherzer didn't walk a batter, the only Met to reach base, Kevin Plawecki, did so on an errant throw made by Yunel Escobar on a routine play in the sixth inning.
Scherzer needed only 109 pitches to record his 27 outs. 17 of those 27 outs came via the strikeout, bettering his previous career-high of 16 set against the Brewers in mid-June. The 17 strikeouts also set a Nationals franchise record. Astoundingly, all 17 of his strikeouts came on swinging strikes.
He got even more dominant as the game went on, striking out nine of the game's final 10 hitters. Those nine strikeouts came in a row before Curtis Granderson popped out to end the ballgame, leaving him one short of tying Tom Seaver's record of 10 consecutive strikeouts. Let that sink in for a second. That's striking out all nine hitters the third time through the order, all swinging. Simply masterful.
Scherzer's Game Score for this scintillating performance came in at 104. That's the second highest of all-time, just one point shy of Kerry Wood's 20-strikeout one-hitter from 1998.
Just as he had done in his first no-hitter against the Pirates on June 20, Scherzer himself out-hit the opposition, finishing the night 1-for-3 at the plate.
As difficult as it is to imagine a $210 million free agent signing to be a bargain, especially for a team that collapsed in the second half and missed the postseason, Scherzer may very well be. He finishes his first season as a member of the Nationals 14-12 with a 2.79 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 276/34 K/BB ratio over 228 2/3 innings. He'll be one of the top hurlers off the board in all fantasy drafts next season, and deservedly so.
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Angels Flying High
With their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the Angels showed their resolve, grit and determination in Saturday's stunning come-from-behind victory over the Rangers. They jumped out to an early 5-1 lead, but found themselves on the wrong end of a 10-6 deficit heading into the game's final frame.
Not taking anything for granted, the Rangers put shut-down closer Shawn Tolleson out there to record the final three outs to hopefully secure a division title. The Angels had other plans. Tolleson, working for a fifth consecutive game, may have been a bit fatigued. He surrendered back-to-back home runs to Erick Aybar and Kole Calhoun to begin the inning.
That's when Rangers manager Jeff Bannister went back to his bullpen, calling upon Ross Ohlendorf to get the job done. He got Mike Trout to ground out, and after allowing a double to Albert Pujols fanned David Murphy. Down to their final out, C.J. Cron delivered a run-scoring single to pull the Halos to within a run. David Freese followed with a single of his own, and backstop Carlos Perez delivered a game-tying RBI single.
That set the stage for Johnny Giavotella, who had made a costly defensive miscue earlier in the ballgame, and who seems to find himself in these type of situations (for better or worse) almost routinely. Down to his final strike, he followed with a single of his own, plating pinch-runner Kaleb Cowart to deliver a critical victory.
The Astros held serve on Saturday night, leaving them one game ahead of the Angels for the final Wild Card spot heading into the season's final day. While they are still on the outside looking in, their playoff hopes will still be alive when Garrett Richards takes the hill on short rest on Sunday.
Time is now for Seager
Dodgers veteran infielder Jimmy Rollins admitted publicly on Friday that the club has decided to roll with rookie shortstop Corey Seager as the team's regular starter at the position heading into the postseason.
It's incredibly refreshing to see the 36-year-old Rollins, who has struggled with the bat this season, gracefully step aside and admit that Seager playing is in the team's best interest.
The 21-year-old phenom has certainly earned his spot, slashing a mighty .316/.404/.516 with three homers and 16 RBI in 95 at-bats since joining the big league club. He'll have a chance to show the world what he can do on the biggest stage, and should remain a fixture at the position in Los Angeles for the next decade.
American League Quick Hits: Stephen Drew is expected to miss the entire postseason due to his concussion issues... Kendrys Morales (quad) was held out of the Royals lineup again on Saturday... Jonathan Schoop is scheduled to undergo further examination on his injured hand... Torii Hunter will wait until November to make a decision about playing in 2016... Carlos Gomez (intercostal) was once again held out of the Astros lineup on Saturday... Lorenzo Cain will continued to be bothered by his knee injury for the next 3-4 weeks, but will play through the pain... Cody Allen publicly stated his interest in working out a long-term deal with the Indians... Yordano Ventura racked up 11 strikeouts over seven innings of one-run ball in a dominant victory over the Twins... Josh Hamilton blasted a pair of home runs in a tough luck loss to the Angels... Edwin Encarnacion clubbed his 39th homer in a loss to the Rays... Manny Machado went deep in both games of Saturday's doubleheader. He has now homered in four straight games and 35 times on the season... Brock Holt was forced to leave Saturday's game with a bruised left knee... Collin McHugh picked up his 19th win of the season as the Astros won a critical road game against the Diamondbacks on Saturday... Colby Rasmus homered twice to power the offense in that win, giving him 25 long balls on the year... Corey Kluber fanned nine in eight scoreless innings in a victory over the Red Sox... Justin Verlander whiffed nine White Sox in a no-decision... Lance McCullers will start for the Astros on Sunday... Mark Buehrle is expected to start for the Blue Jays on short rest on Sunday... Miguel Cabrera will be held out of Sunday's lineup, finishing the season slashing .338/.440/.534 and securing his fourth American League batting title in the last five seasons.
National League Quick Hits: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle officially tabbed Gerrit Cole to start the team's Wild Card game against the Cubs... Mets manager Terry Collins announced that Jacob deGrom will start Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers... Clayton Kershaw will oppose him for the Dodgers... Steven Matz received an injection in his back on Friday to relax his muscles. There's a chance that he may not be ready to start Game 4 of the NLDS... The Marlins have spoken to Rays' Director of Player Personnel Matt Arnold about a high-ranking position in their front office... Saturday's game between the Cardinals and Braves was rained out, and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Sunday... Matt Cain will start the Giants' season finale on Sunday... Noah Syndergaard punched out 10 over seven innings in a no-decision against the Nationals... David Peralta (wrist) was shut down for the remainder of the season... Wil Myers (wrist) was shut down as well... Yasiel Puig (hamstring) returned to the Dodgers lineup... Tom Murphy was lifted from Saturday's game with a strained left shoulder... Santiago Casilla had his $6.5 million option for 2016 vest on Saturday, finishing his 55th game of the season... Matt Harvey struck out 11 over six sparkling innings in a loss to the Nationals... Bryce Harper clubbed his 42nd home run as the Nationals took the first game of Saturday's doubleheader against the Mets... Kyle Hendricks fired six shutout innings of one-hit ball in a victory over the Brewers... Hector Rondon recorded his 30th save of the season with a perfect ninth inning... Stephen Piscotty (concussion) received clearance to return to the Cardinals lineup... A.J. Ramos recorded saves in both games of Saturday's doubleheader against the Phillies... Zack Greinke fired eight innings of one-run ball to earn his 19th victory. He finishes the season with a league-leading 1.66 ERA. It's the lowest ERA for any qualified starting pitcher since Greg Maddux's 1.63 mark in a strike-shortened 1995 season.