For the second straight season, the final Sunday of the regular season featured a no-hitter, although it took a phenomenal defensive play to finish it.
Jordan Zimmermann threw the season’s fifth no-hitter and the first for the Nationals since the franchise moved to Washington, D.C. The last pitcher to throw a no-hitter for a team from the city was Bobby Burke for the 1931 Senators against the Boston Red Sox.
Zimmermann threw it against the Marlins, who got a no-hitter from Henderson Alvarez on the final Sunday of the regular season last season against the Detroit Tigers. Alvarez was the losing pitcher in this game.
No-Hitter in Team's Final Game
MLB History, Via: Elias Sports Bureau
The Nationals join the 1975 Athletics as the only teams to throw a no-hitter on the last day of the season and then go on to the playoffs. The 1975 Athletics finished with the best record in the American League but were swept in three games in the ALCS. The Nationals finish the regular season the best record in the National League and will start with a best-of-five NLDS in their first playoff series.
How he won
Zimmermann got 19 swings and misses, the second-most in any start of his career and one shy of his career high, 20 against the Brewers on June 24, 2014.
He got six strikeouts with his breaking pitches, tying a career high. Seven of the strikeouts came on pitches in the lower third of the strike zone or below, tied for the most in any start in his career.
Zimmermann threw 23 first-pitch strikes to the 29 hitters he faced. All 10 of his strikeouts came after being ahead in the count, 0-1.
Zimmermann also chipped in a pair of hits, joining Tim Lincecum as pitchers to have two hits in a no-hitter this season. According to Elias, the last one before Lincecum was Rick Wise (who hit two home runs) in a no-hitter for the 1971 Phillies.
Elias also notes that 15 different players had a putout or an assist in the game, the most by any team in a no-hitter.
Play of the game
Steven Souza, inserted as a defensive replacement for Ryan Zimmerman in the ninth inning and playing only his fourth major league game in left field, made arguably the play of the season to end the game, a sprinting, diving catch in left field.
It's not the only notable defensive play to come late in a no-hitter:
Sept. 16, 1960 -- Johnny Logan makes a terrific play on a ground ball off Warren Spahn's glove, throwing out Bobby Malkmus for the final out of a no-hitter for the Braves against the Phillies.
April 15, 1987 -- Robin Yount makes a diving catch on Eddie Murray's line drive to center field for the final out of Juan Nieves' no-hitter for the Brewers against the Orioles.
July 28, 1994 -- Rex Hudler's slicing line drive is caught on a terrific diving play by Rusty Greer for the first out of Kenny Rogers' perfect game for the Rangers against the Angels.
July 10, 2009 -- With one out in the ninth, Aaron Rowand makes an incredible catch in center field on a ball hit by Edgar Gonzalez to record the second out of the ninth inning in Jonathan Sanchez's no-hitter for the Giants.
July 23, 2009 -- DeWayne Wise, inserted as a defensive replacement in center field, robs Gabe Kapler of a home run for the first out in the ninth inning to preserve Mark Buehrle's perfect game for the White Sox against the Rays.
Did you know?
This was the sixth no-hitter to be thrown on Sept. 28. Elias notes that this date is tied with April 27 and Sept. 20 as the dates with the most no-hitters, the most recent of which before Sunday was Bailey for the Reds against the Pirates in 2012.
And since the baseball world always comes full circle, the first of those was thrown by a pitcher named Ed Cushman for the Milwaukee Brewers of the now-defunct Union Association in 1884.
The team against which that no-hitter was thrown was the original Washington Nationals.