Max Scherzer will tell you he’s not a great fielder. He’ll tell you that his throwing motion makes it hard to grab anything hit back at him. But he’ll also tell you that on Wednesday afternoon, when he was five outs away from his third no-hitter, he thought he had made a history-saving catch.
“I thought I had it,” he said of the ball that was slapped back at him by Marlins catcher A.J. Ellis. “Then when I looked at [my glove], it was empty.”
After bouncing off Scherzer’s glove, the ball trickled toward second base, where Washington shortstop Trea Turner scrambled to preserve the no-hitter. He missed the ball, and the no-hitter was gone.
Meanwhile, in the Washington dugout, manager Dusty Baker’s focus shifted immediately. Up until that point, he said he was having fun watching his pitcher blow away the Marlins with 11 strikeouts.
“Then they got the hit,” he said, “and now you’ve gotta figure out how to win the ballgame.”
It should’ve been as simple as retiring the next two batters. Scherzer got the first one — J.T. Riddle — to ground out. And he got the second one — J.T. Realmuto — to do the same. But Turner’s potential inning-ending throw to first was dropped by Nationals first baseman Adam Lind, giving the Marlins hope for a comeback.
They realized that hope minutes later when Giancarlo Stanton drove in the winning run. Scherzer went from potential no-hitter to being in position to lose the game in two-thirds of an inning.
Nevertheless, even in hindsight, Baker had no regrets about leaving Scherzer on the mound. He said it was the best he’s seen his ace throw.
“It’s his game,” Baker said. “He was still throwing the ball great. And who could you bring in that would throw better than him?”
Scherzer agreed with Baker’s decision.
“I had stuff in the tank,” he said. “I was still able to go out there and compete and execute pitches. Just a couple of those sliders got away from me.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Felo Ramirez, the Spanish-language radio voice of the Marlins, is back in Miami recovering after spending more than a month in a Delaware hospital.
Ramirez, who turns 94 on Thursday, has been hospitalized since late April after falling from the Marlins’ team bus during a trip to Philadelphia.
Ramirez is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
▪ A friend of Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez was struck in the head by a bat that flew out of the hands of Marlins first baseman Justin Bour on Tuesday night.
“He’s doing fine,” said Gonzalez, a Hialeah native who pitched the Nationals to a 12-3 win in front of family and friends. “It’s a tough noggin’ right there. That’s why he’s so smart.”
Bour gave the friend one of his bats.
“That’s pretty cool on his part,” Gonzalez said of Bour.
Said Bour: “I thought that was the least I could do was run a bat over there and make sure he was all right. It can be a bit frustrating when you hit a ball or let go of a bat like that.”
Gonzalez also had nice things to say about the Marlins’ lineup.
“Stanton batting second, that says it all,” Gonzalez said. “Right off the bat, speed [Dee Gordon] and then power. The lineup is well put together. You’ve got to pick and choose your poison.”
▪ Thursday: Marlins LHP Jeff Locke (0-2, 4.58 ERA) vs. Chicago Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta (6-5, 4.64), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Jose Urena (5-2, 3.64) vs. Cubs RHP John Lackey (5-7, 4.98), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.