Max Scherzer’s bid for a perfect game on a sticky Saturday afternoon in Washington, D.C., was spoiled only by a diving left elbow.
The Pirates’ Jose Tabata stood at the plate in the top of the ninth with his team having yet to get a base runner against the Nationals’ righty. Scherzer fired a 2-2 pitch inside to Tabata and the pinch hitter, doing what good competitors do, learned into the pitch with his heavily padded left elbow.
Home plate umpire Mike Muchlinksi signaled Tabata to first base, and just like that, Scherzer’s perfect day vanished.
However, pitching through humidity nearly as thick as the chocolate syrup his teammates doused him with during the customary post-game TV interview, Scherzer retired Josh Harrison on a long fly to left, securing a no-hitter, only the second in the Nationals’ 10-year history.
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 20, 2015
Scherzer not only had to battle the red hot Pirates – they had won eight in a row before losing in Washington Friday night – but also the thick humidity at Nationals Park.
“It was pretty exhausting out there; it was pretty hot and humid,” Scherzer said in the post-game press conference. “Going through the first six innings, it was pretty tiring and exhausting, just mentally.”
Scherzer said the Nationals’ offensive outpouring in the sixth inning – the team scored four runs in that frame – helped him catch his breath and cool off.
“Guys just stepped up to the plate and did their job,” he said. “I just felt like that gave me a break, you know, just gave me some time to recuperate, sit in the clubhouse in some air conditioning to kind of rest up. And then I felt strong. I felt like I could get out there and come with my best fastball for the last three innings.”
Scherzer was asked about his in-game superstitions throughout pitching a perfect game and whether he talked with teammates between innings.
“No, I’m not really talking to teammates, it’s just either get some water or I need a new jersey and a new shirt,” he said. “And so I’m just changing my jersey and shirt to try and stay dry because it was pretty humid. I was sweating pretty good today.”
The Nats ace said he changed his jersey about every inning.