We all know the saying that you need a great defensive play at some point to complete a no-hitter in baseball.
Jordan Zimmermann is a believer after Sunday.
The Nationals pitcher threw a no-hitter against the Marlins on the final day of the season thanks to a little help from outfielder Steven Souza. He had just one walk and 10 strikeouts as he completed the Nationals’ first no-hitter ever. (Yes, they had a no-hitter when they were the Expos, but we’re counting them separately here.)
Souza, who was the Triple-A International League’s MVP this season, came into the game in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement for Ryan Zimmerman. And three outs later, the Nationals — to say nothing of Zimmermann — are really happy about the switch.
Souza tracked a hard shot to left field by Christian Yelich, one of the best young left fielders in the game himself, and caught the ball with a diving over-the-shoulder grab for the 27th out.
Zimmermann said after the game he’d buy Souza “whatever he wanted,” so I’d ask for a house or island or something.
The catch brings to mind a few others which preserved no-hitters, including Dewayne Wise robbing a home run in the ninth inning of Mark Buerhle’s perfect game in July 2009.
Giants right fielder Gregor Blanco also had a tremendous diving catch in the seventh inning to preserve Matt Cain’s perfect game last season.
Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports. Pretty sure Ryan Zimmerman was very happy not to be in left that inning too.