- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 21, 2015

When the interviews were over and the chocolate syrup had washed down the drain, Max Scherzer met his parents, Brad and Jan, and his wife, Erica May-Scherzer, in the family room at Nationals Park. They shared a large bowl of crawfish étouffée and digested the historic evening that was.

“I didn’t get much sleep,” Scherzer said with a smile Sunday morning. “But that’s from a good reason.”

Scherzer threw the second no-hitter in Washington Nationals history Saturday in a 6-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He recorded 10 strikeouts, allowed only one baserunner and left the field with six bottles of chocolate syrup dripping off his jersey.

The hours afterward were a blur. There was a quick shower and a press conference, then phone calls with SportsCenter and MLB Network Radio. A television appearance on MLB Network followed. Meanwhile, a clubhouse attendant carried his hat, still covered in syrup, through the clubhouse in a white plastic bag. More than 120 text messages were piling up on Scherzer’s phone.

“Just on a high. Just a high from the game,” Scherzer said. “It’s just something that you can’t describe.”

SEE ALSO: Nationals’ record-setting first inning wraps up a productive weekend

Amid all of that, the 30-year-old pitcher with a $210 million contract made time to bring his father a plate of food from the clubhouse. His parents were in town for just the second time this year, and the first time since Opening Day. They watched the game with their daughter-in-law from Section 121. It was the eve of Father’s Day.

“It was a perfect Father’s Day present,” Brad Scherzer said outside the clubhouse afterward. “Regardless of what happened in the game, it was a perfect Father’s Day present.”

“That’s what my dad wanted,” Max Scherzer added Sunday. “He doesn’t want a tie. I gave him a no-hitter, so he was pretty happy.”

The morning after the feat, Scherzer’s teammates were still marveling at what they had seen. It wasn’t merely that the right-hander had pitched a no-hitter, or racked up 10 strikeouts along the way. It was that, six days earlier, Scherzer had been almost as dominant, throwing a one-hit shutout with 16 strikeouts against the Milwaukee Brewers.

In his past two starts, Scherzer has allowed one hit with one walk and 26 strikeouts over 18 scoreless innings. A few teammates chuckled at the absurdity of those numbers. Denard Span said he has never seen anything like it.

“The only thing I can think of is Mark Buehrle, maybe back when he was with the White Sox,” Span said. “It was something like 17 scoreless innings, but it wasn’t dominating strikeouts, overpowering hitters [like Scherzer].”

The balls from the two performances now sit next to one another in Scherzer’s locker, each clearly marked. A baseball is one of the only souvenirs Scherzer will keep from Saturday’s no-hitter. He also plans to frame a jersey from the evening, and a photo to commemorate the moment.

The day after was mostly a celebration for Scherzer and his teammates, but there were also still questions about what could have been.

With two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning, Scherzer threw a slider that didn’t break as expected and hit Jose Tabata in the elbow with the pitch. Nationals fans believed that Tabata intentionally leaned into the path of the ball to get on base and break up the perfect game, and they made those beliefs known during Sunday’s 9-2 victory, booing Tabata at every possible opportunity. He was booed when he was introduced, before his at-bats, after his at-bats, and even when he caught a fly ball in right field.

“I’m thinking of hitting a good pitch, that’s my job, and he got me,” Tabata told reporters Saturday night. “He threw a slider that came back to me and he got me. I know he throw a perfect game, so I want to do my job. I know he one of the best pitchers in the league.”

Scherzer was visibly frustrated when his pitch hit Tabata but said it took him “two seconds” to refocus and seal the no-hitter. He has yet to complain about the play.

For Scherzer, the first no-hitter of his major-league career was something to be celebrated, not doubted. Twelve hours later, in a calm Nationals clubhouse, the achievement was still sinking in.

“When you put it in the context of what I’ve done the past two games, it’s a major personal accomplishment,” Scherzer said. “But at the same time, we’ve also won two games as well. We’ve done it as a team. Guys are playing really hard behind me as well. That’s what puts a smile on my face.”

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