WASHINGTON: Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer hurled a no-hitter on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), coming within one strike of a rare perfect game before plunking a Pittsburgh batter with a pitch.
Scherzer was in dominant form in the 6-0 win, retiring the first 26 batters he faced to stand one batter away from Major League Baseball’s 24th perfect game — a victory in which a pitcher allows no opposing player to reach base.
With two outs in the ninth Pirates pinch-hitter Jose Tabata came to the plate and fouled off three 2-2 pitches before a slider from Scherzer nicked the batter on the left elbow to send him to first base.
“I was so close with two strikes,” said Scherzer, who was doused with chocolate sauce by teammates by way of celebration. “But I got a no-hitter in front of these fans. Nothing is better than that.”
It was the 13th time a perfect game was broken up with two out in the ninth.
“Just didn’t finish the pitch,” Scherzer said. “It backed up on me and clipped him.”
Tabata said the pitch hit him on his elbow protection pad, and he had no room for regret.
“He wanted to strike me out, but my job is to get on base any way I can,” Tabata said. “So when I saw the umpire make motion for me to go to first base, I’m, ‘Oh, wow.’ He got me, so he didn’t throw a perfect game.”
But Scherzer completed the no-hitter three pitches later, inducing a fly out to left field off the bat of Josh Harrison.
It was the sixth no-hitter in the history of the National, franchise, and the second since the team relocated to Washington from Montreal.