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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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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… and if that leads us to Bryce Harper’s potential landing spot, then I present to you the yummiest reasons he should stay with the Washington Nationals.

In a video from TMZ, a paparazzi follows Harper to baggage claim and implores him for any hints toward where he is signing this offseason. The only true answer he got was that Harper likes a place called Steak 48 in Chicago. This surf-and-turf hot spot in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago has the audacity to serve “Maryland STYLE lump crab cakes.” Really, Bryce? Will the real thing convince you?!

On that note, let’s start off with the seafood we have to offer. This is the Mid-Atlantic, after all.

How can you work here April-September without eating local crabs in some form? I think that’s impossible. You can choose from hard shell or soft shell, but no shame in either game.

Live Chesapeake blue crabs can be bought at Captain White’s Seafood and other vendors on The Wharf off Maine Avenue. Otherwise, you can sit down and have them steamed for you at Quarterdeck, Ivy City Smokehouse, Bethesda Crab House or Captain Pell’s.

If Harper is more of a soft shell guy, all of those places also serve out-of-the-park crab cakes, but you can’t go wrong with Hank’s Oyster Bar, Old Ebbitt Grill, Chris’ Marketplace, or Clyde’s.

If the star really wants to dive in to local taste, he should eat Chesapeake Bay oysters from the largest estuary in America. My personal favorite selection is at Whaley’s (seafood tower on me, Bryce), but Rapphanock Oyster Bar, The Dabney, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black’s Bar & Kitchen can’t be beat.

I find it hard to believe the team hasn't had an outing at The Salt Line, the lively seafood spot just a short throw from Nats Park where teammate Ryan Zimmerman is an investor and co-owner.

Now that we’ve satisfied Harper’s iron intake, let’s break down his protein. In order to keep the superstar here, I want to make sure he knows that D.C. cares about providing a well-rounded diet.

Barbecued meats in general around here are delectable. Sitting in juxtaposition between the north and south, D.C. restaurants bring a mash-up of styles of smoked and sauced meats. Favorites are Federalist Pig, Hill Country, Fat Pete’s and Hardy’s BBQ truck.

However, if Bryce Harper show he’s as invested in authentic Nationals fans as our season tickets are in him, he should really pick up a half-smoke, the district’s original recipe for a spicy, thicker pork and beef dog that’s aggressively seasoned and sometimes served with chili sauce.

Could you imagine Harper making his announcement to stay over a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl? I think even the panda statue would cry tears of joy.

Another hyper-local taste is mumbo sauce. While proven not originally from here, D.C. natives are enthusiastic about the special sauce. Yum’s is pretty well-known for carrying it.

Time for dessert! I think we can all agree that in the past 10 years, cupcakes have become iconic in the district with Georgetown Cupcakes, Baked & Wired and Sprinkles all having a home in Georgetown. To settle the debate, Baked & Wired is best. They are ranked #1 on Yelp if you don’t believe my own palette.

But what if it’s game night, you ask? D.C. has it’s hearty share of restaurants that are open even after extra innings. The Diner, Kramerbooks, Mandu, New Big Wong, Old Ebbitt Grill, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Amsterdam Falafelshop and Jumbo Slice are all here to keep you warm at night no matter what you’re craving post-victory. Need I go on?

Bryce reassured Nats fans and TMZ that he is “still a National right now.” Better eat these while you can, Bryce, or you’ll be sorry you didn't sign in one of the best food cities in the MLB.

Do you have any local food or restaurants you think will convince Bryce Harper to stay with the Washington Nationals this offseason? Send them to @NBCNationals or @rmhopmayer. Maybe we can throw together a friends-giving or holiday dinner for those that want him to stay our beloved Guest of Honor.

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Here's why one writer voted for Max Scherzer over Jacob deGrom for NL Cy Young

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USA Today

Here's why one writer voted for Max Scherzer over Jacob deGrom for NL Cy Young

Jacob deGrom could've been a unanimous Cy Young award winner Wednesday. Instead, he won with 29 of 30 first-place votes.

The only voter who chose not to give deGrom a first-place vote was John Maffei of the San Deigo Union-Tribune

"What is stunning to me is the blowback from the fans, especially in New York," wrote Maffei. "Dozens of emails — some venomous — ranging from 'hey dumbass,' 'incompetent,' 'idiot,' 'moron' and 'clown.' Several called for my head, my job."

Shocking. Keyboard warriors furiously typing out their frustration and overreacting to something they didn't like.  

Maffei joined Steve Somers of WFAN in New York as well, which ended up being the shortest interview in the history of interviews.

Maffei points out that he chose to vote for Scherzer over deGrom for many reasons. One being, despite a 1.70 ERA over 217 innings, he had 10 wins and nine losses.

After he talked with other baseball experts, looked at Scherzer's 2.53 ERA and his historic 300-strikeout season — making him one of only 17 pitchers to do that since 1900 — Maffei says his vote was swayed in the direction of the Nats' ace.

One thing's for sure, Maffei may not have made any friends in New York, but he's made plenty of new ones in Washington.