Max Scherzer lost his bid for perfection when he walked Cleveland Indians’ outfielder Tyler Naquin with two out in the fifth, after he’d retired the first fourteen batters he faced. He still had a no-hit bid going, however.
He retired 18 of 19 batters before Francisco Lindor singled to center for the first hit of the game off Scherzer with one out in the top of the seventh.
It unraveled quickly after that. An errant pick attempt allowed Lindor to take third and a double off the wall in right by Jose Ramirez broke up Scherzer’s bid for a shutout.
Ramirez stole third base with Lonnie Chisenhall up and scored when Chisenhall hit a pop to left over the drawn-in infield to put Cleveland up 2-0 in what ended up a 3-1 win in the nation’s capital.
“He didn’t run out of gas,” Dusty Baker told reporters when asked what went wrong for his 32-year-old starter in the seventh.
“It’s just — he had some pretty good hitters up there.
“Shoot, man, they hit some decent pitches. He was still throwing 95-96, he wasn’t close to running out of gas...
“And if he was running out of gas, what were we going to do about it? Take him out?
“But he had a no-hitter going. Lindor hit one up the middle and then we had the errant pick-off, you saw the game, and then [Ramirez] hit one off the wall.”
For a while there, Baker admitted, he thought Scherzer might just throw his third no-hitter in the last two years.
Ben Revere made a leaping catch at the wall in left-center in the first at bat of the sixth, and it seemed like one of the plays teammates have to make in a no-hitter.
“Oh, yeah, I mean, everybody was thinking it, you were thinking it,” Baker said.
“Because [Scherzer] knows how to close out those games. Then it went from a no-hitter to a loss in a matter of time, and we couldn’t muster too much offense.”
Indians’ righty Trevor Bauer held the Nationals scoreless through 6 ⅓, giving up four hits and two walks before he was done for the night, snapping a five-start winless streak, over which he’d posted an 8.37 ERA and a .324/.405/.529 line against.
“Bauer, he worked quickly,” Baker said.
“He hung some breaking balls that we fouled off or missed, but his fastball was well-located and then they got him out of there before we could get to him.
“They went to [Andrew] Miller and then they went to the rest of their bullpen, [Bryan] Shaw and [Cody] Allen. It was a well-played game and a pitchers’ duel.
“Not a whole bunch to say about that.”
“We hit a couple balls hard, but they hit a couple balls hard also,” Baker explained.
“So it was a well-played and well-pitched game. They just outplayed us tonight. Sometimes you get beat, and sometimes you lose.”