NEW YORK — Max Scherzer pitched his second no-hitter this season for Washington, striking out a team-record 17 and leading the Nationals over the NL East champion New York Mets 2-0 Saturday night for a doubleheader sweep.
The All-Star righty became just the sixth pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a year, and the first since Roy Halladay in 2010 — the former Phillies ace had one in the regular season and another in the playoffs.
“These things are special,” Scherzer said. “To do it twice in one season, my gosh, it doesn’t seem possible.”
Scherzer struck out nine straight batters before Curtis Granderson hit an easy popup to Escobar to end it on his 109th pitch.
“To throw a no-hitter, sometimes it takes a little luck,” Scherzer said. “I was able to execute all four of my pitches whether I was behind in the count or ahead in the count.”
Working quickly on a brisk, blustery night at Citi Field, Scherzer (14-12) added to the no-hitter he threw against Pittsburgh on June 20, when he came within one strike of a perfect game.
Johnny Vander Meer, who pitched two in a row, Nolan Ryan, Virgil Trucks and Allie Reynolds also threw a pair in the same season.
The Mets lost their fifth in a row, having dropped the opener 3-1. The skid has put in peril their chance of getting home-field advantage in the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
New York and Los Angeles are among four teams in major league history to make the playoffs after getting no-hit twice in one season, according to STATS. The others were the 2010 Tampa Bay Rays and 1917 Chicago White Sox, who won the World Series.
This is Scherzer’s first season with the Nationals after the 2013 AL Cy Young winner left Detroit and signed a $210 million, seven-year deal as a free agent.
In a season that has spiraled downward for the Nationals, the gems by Scherzer have been highlights. This also marked the second straight year a Washington pitcher came up big late — Jordan Zimmermann threw the first no-hitter in Nationals history on the final day of the regular season in 2014.
At times, Scherzer looked as if he was simply playing catch with Wilson Ramos. Wherever Ramos put his catcher’s mitt, Scherzer seemed to hit it.
“I trusted my catcher,” Scherzer said. “There were a lot of times he called some pitches I wasn’t sure about. I trusted him, and it worked we were in sync.”
Matt Harvey (13-8) lost despite allowing just one unearned run and four hits in six innings with 11 strikeouts.
The Nationals won the opener when Bryce Harper hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth off Addison Reed (3-3). It was Harper’s 42nd homer. Rafael Martin (2-0) got one out as the Nationals ended a six-game skid against the Mets. Felipe Rivero worked the ninth for his second save.
Nationals: Harper was heavily bandaged in ice after being hit by Noah Syndergaard‘s fastball and didn’t play the second game. “Like he threw it through me,” Harper said.
Mets: LHP Steven Matz got an injection for his sore back and “hopefully that helps him a lot,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. The 24-year-old rookie is 4-0. He missed two months because of a partial muscle tear on his left side earlier this season, and hasn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 24. The Mets would like him to start against the Dodgers — he could get a tuneup next week in the instructional league.
Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (4-7, 4.63) is 3-0 in five career games at Citi Field.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.60) starts vs. Washington for the sixth time this season. He’s 2-2 with a 3.26 ERA in those outings.