Of course, there’s no such thing as close to perfect. Either you throw a perfecto or you don’t. But Max flirted with it again tonight, with no baserunners allowed until Addison Russell hit a solo homer with one out in the 6th. Max would ultimately allow one other hit and no other runs through 7 innings to earn the win against the Cubs.
According to Mark Zuckerman, in 47 starts for the Nats, Max has now carried a no-hitter into at least the 6th inning… 7 times.
Two of those, of course, were his two actual no-hitters. In both no-hitters, Max was painfully close to perfect. That first would-be perfecto ended with the HBP heard round the world - which FP, and some of us, are still inclined to ignore and call it a perfect game, since Tabata totally leaned into it. But sadly baseball doesn’t work that way.
In the second no-no, it was a perfecto but for the grace of Yunel Escobar, with the only two baserunners coming on an Escobar error in the 6th followed by a fielder’s choice. Funnily enough, the baserunner who reached on that fielder’s choice was Daniel Murphy.
In fact, before each of the no-hitters, Max had sort of a “warm-up” start in his preceding game (and can anyone tell me what foreshadowing is….?) On September 28th vs. the Reds, Max allowed three baserunners on walks, but kept a no-hitter going until one out in the 8th. And on June 14th (a year ago tomorrow), Max was perfect until the seventh, when Carlos Gomez blooped the one Brewers hit of the game.
What does all that mean, other than that Max Scherzer, when he’s in control, is really really in control? Given that Max has functionally been one batter away from a perfect game twice now (since the second baserunner in his no-hitter against the Mets only happened because of the previous error), maybe the third time will be the charm. And given how he looked tonight - not that different from how he looked in those “warm-up” starts on September 28th and June 14th - everybody might want to tune in five days from now.
UNJINX, UNJINX, UNJINX, KNOCK ON ALL OF THE WOOD.