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Scherzer's no-no and Tabata's HBP from Pirates' perspective

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Scherzer's no-no and Tabata's HBP from Pirates' perspective

Max Scherzer was one strike away on Saturday afternoon from becoming just the 24th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to throw a perfect game. One strike was all he needed before an inside slider didn't break and instead bounced of the elbow of a pinch-hitting Jose Tabata.

Tabata came off the Pirates' bench to work a 2-2 count by fouling off five balls in an eight-pitch at-bat. Then Scherzer hit him and lost his perfect game before retiring the very next batter to secure his first no-hitter.

A no-hitter is a fantastic accomplishment and it had only been done once before in Nationals' history. But a perfect game is a perfect game, and whether Tabata tried hard enough to elude the inside pitch became a point of contention afterwards.

Tabata didn't bite when asked if he leaned into the pitch, and described it as just a slider that simply didn't break.

"When I see that, I was like 'wow,'" he said. "It got me in the elbow. I had a protector on the elbow. I know he tried to throw me a slider or something inside. But the slider was not broken, there was no break on it. It was right there and he got me."

Nationals' catcher Wilson Ramos had as good a view as anybody on the play and saw replays afterwards in the clubhouse. He thought Tabata's elbow was in the strike zone. Rule 6.08 in the MLB rulebook states that a player must make an honest effort to avoid a pitch to be awarded a base after getting hit.

"That ball was a little bit in the strike zone, that's what I saw in the videos," Ramos said. "But that happens in baseball. [Scherzer] never put his head down. He got mad in that moment, but right away just get the ball back to him and he attacked the next hitter really well. That was an amazing job for him. All the credit for him."

Manager Matt Williams said he didn't argue the call in part due to Scherzer still carrying a no-hitter.

"I think that's irrelevant at this point. The last thing I'm going to do is walk on the field and mess up Max's rhythm. That'd be a crying shame. I ain't doing that," he said.

Scherzer became just the second pitcher ever to lose a perfect game 8 2/3 innings into his start on a HBP. The last time that happened was 1908. He is just the third pitcher in MLB history to lose a a perfect game after 26 outs and still complete a no-hitter. The last time that happened was 1972.

What happened on Saturday in the Nats' 6-0 win was nothing short of extraordinary, even though he fell short of perfection. Pirates players and manager Clint Hurdle couldn't help but tip their cap.

"You need to find it in your baseball heart to appreciate that performance," Hurdle said. "We didn't feel like the walk was in play today with the way he was throwing."

"Unfortunately we had to see that happen against us today, but I'm just happy for him," Pirates starter Francisco Liriano said. "I'm just happy for him. That's not easy to do. There's a lot of pressure for him."

"It was just one of those things where he had everything going for him," shortstop Jordy Mercer said. "He was 93-95 early and then 96-98 late. Just good stuff."

Despite breaking up Scherzer's perfect game, Tabata was still able to appreciate Scherzer's accomplishment:

"Baseball, everything happens. I can say good for him. He got a no-no. That's all I can say."

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.