Max Scherzer's first start of the week against the Milwaukee Brewers last Sunday in Miller Park might have been good enough to earn him recognition as the National League's Player of the Week, but if there was any doubt, he erased it with his second outing on Saturday afternoon in the nation's capital.
Following up on a complete game, one-hit shutout in which he struck out 16, Scherzer no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates in Nationals Park, striking out 10 and coming a hit-by-pitch with two out in the ninth away from a perfect game.
"He's our ace," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the fourth no-hitter by a D.C.-based pitcher.
"He's the guy that started on Opening Day. He's the guy that we look to to stop a streak, to continue one if we're rolling.
"We feel very confident when he goes out there we have a chance to win that game. And so far this season he's given us opportunity every single time."
"My last two starts, this is some of the best baseball that I've thrown," Scherzer told reporters, "the best pitching I've done. I just feel like I'm executing with all my pitches. I just continue to keep getting better. And it just shows you hard work pays off."
A total of eighteen consecutive scoreless innings in which he allowed just one hit would have to be up there among the best stretches of his career, yes. The numbers?
Scherzer held opposing hitters to a .018/.053/.018 line, walked one (0.50 BB/9) and struck out 26 (13.00 K/9) in 18 IP, leaving him (8-5) on the year with a 1.76 ERA, 1.96 FIP, 14 walks (1.23 BB/9) and 123 Ks (10.82 K/9) in 102 ⅓ IP.
This afternoon, Scherzer was officially named the NL Player of the Week in recognition of his accomplishments in his last two starts: