Bang Bang Maxwell’s Super Heater

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I didn’t want to use the easiest headline “No Hitter to the Max,” when I heard the ending of Max  Scherzer’s 2-0 no-hitter victory for the Washington Nationals against the Mets last night. Howie Rose on the Mets radio broadcasts said even as late as  the 9th inning Scherzer’s fast ball was blazing in at 95 MPH, putting me in mind of one of my favorite Beatles songs “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.”

Maxwell M. Scherzer had been here before. He no-hit the playoff bound Pirates on June 20, his first career no-no. Now he has claimed his second, also against a team with the postseason in its immediate future.

Considering the Mets hope to play not just this week but late into October if not November, their play of late  has been distressing to the 7 Line Army who follows them. They haven’t won since beating Cincinnati last Sunday. They were humiliated in a 3-game series in Philadelphia, then returned home to drop both games of yesterday’s day-night doubleheader. Between injuries and the desire to rest some players for the upcoming Dodgers series, Mets manager Terry Collins did not present Max Scherzer with a major league challenge. Yoenis Cespedes was hit on the left hand Wednesday night, and though he played the first game he was relegated to pinch-hitting duty in game 2. Wilmer Flores and Stephen Matz have back injuries. Juan Uribe has been out for some time with an injury of a mysterious origin. Thus, the lineup was hardly the one that swept Cincinnati in 4 straight last weekend to clinch their pennant.  Ruben Tejada was hitting second, which says plenty. From the cleanup spot on down were Michael Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Kevin Plawecki, Dilson Herrera and the pitcher’s spot. Of these only Johnson has any business on a major league roster and he’s been a career journeyman at best. In a despairing effort, similar to cramming for a final exam when you haven’t attended a class all semester, Terry Collins put up pinch-hitters Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda but it did no good. Cespedes was the 16th strikeout victim and Duda the 17th. Had Curtis Granderson struck out it would have been 10 K’s to end a game, a feat only done by the Mets’ own Tom Seaver in 1970. But Granderson popped out, saving Seaver’s record but sealing the Mets’ fate. Scherzer joins exclusive company in throwing two no-hitters in the same season. Larry Corcoran did it back in 1882, and tossed them within a month of each other. In 1938, the Reds’ Johnny Vander Meer famously pitched two back-to-back no-nos, one in the first night game played in Brooklyn. Allie Reynolds pitched a pair of no-nos for the Yankees in 1951. That team would beat the Giants made famous by Bobby Thomson’s Shot Heard Round the World. The very next year Virgil “Fire” Trucks performed the feat. It would take 21 years to happen again. Nolan Ryan pulled it off for the Angels in 1973 while America heard President Nixon proclaim he was not a crook. In 2010 Roy Halliday did it for the Phillies-once in the regular season, one in the playoffs.   The amazing feat of a pitcher throwing two  no-hitters in the same season  hadn’t been done again until last night. Scherzer has two of the 7 no-hitters the major leagues can claim this season.

This isn’t the first time the Mets have been no-hit on their own field this season. On June 9, Chris Heston of the Giants put up a no-hitter against them. Who was Chris Heston? a 27-year old rookie out of East Carolina whose record that night went to 6-4 and is now 12-11.  That night Noah Syndergaard was the victim of the no-no,  but this time it was Matt Harvey, with Syndergaard losing game 1 earlier in the day. Now, the odds are heavily in favor of the Mets having to travel to Los Angeles to start the NLDS Friday night. Interestingly enough, another team with a ticket to the postseason this year has suffered two no-hitters, and they are the team the Mets will play this coming Friday night.  The Los Angeles Dodgers were no-hit by Mike Fiers of Houston and Jake Arrieta of the Cubs this summer. Before that, only one team had been no-hit twice only to reach the postseason and they went all the way. The 1917 Chicago White Sox were no-hit both May 5 and 6, and still won the World Series that year with a roster that included all 8 men who would be barred for life from baseball following the Black Sox scandal two years later.

A Little Ginger for the Reds

During the 1869 barnstorming tour of Harry Wright’s Cincinnati RedStockings, if a player was lagging, his manager would say he “needed a little ginger.” What he meant by that I don’t know, but this year’s Reds needed a little ginger if ever a Reds team needed one and they found it in a 3-1 victory over the Pirates last night in Pittsburgh.  The victory broke up the Reds’ 13-game losing streak, their longest since the Second World War. It also prevents them from losing 100 games, which they last did in 1982 when every college kid was playing Pac Man. When closer Aroldis Chapman retired his last foe, Reds’ Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman was able to say, for the first time in 14 games “And this one belongs to the Reds.” That has been his catch phrase for a Reds win since he took the place of Al Michaels in 1974. Yes, that Al Michaels, as in “Do you believe in miracles? YES!!!!” He had toured the league with the Reds during 1972 and 1973 before answering ABC’s call of destiny. Brennaman and his son Tom have for some time been  Reds’ broadcasters, occupying  positions filled in the glorious past  by Red Barber and Waite Hoyt.  I’m glad not to see the Reds end the year losing 15 straight and losing 100 games. But that’s just baseball as I see it.

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