|Eric Hosmer greeting Austin Nola after crossing the plate on his two-run home run in the fourth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.
The Mets lost to the San Diego Padres, 4-1, on Friday night at Citi Field in their first game back from the All-Star break. The Mets fell to 58-36 on the season, and they saw their National League East lead go back to just 1 1/2 games, as the Atlanta Braves (57-38) ran out the worthless Los Angeles Angels, 8-1.
It was a pitching duel between the Mets' Max Scherzer and San Diego's Yu Darvish, and Darvish got the better of it as he went seven innings, and allowed one run on four hits and a walk, with nine strikeouts, to improve to 9-4 with a 3.28 ERA (earned run average) on the season. He has thrown seven innings or more in nine starts this season, tied for third-most in the major leagues with Milwaukee's Corbin Burnes. Only Miami's Sandy Alcantara (14) and Philadelphia's Aaron Nola (12) have more.
Scherzer went six innings, allowing just two runs on five hits and a walk, with eight strikeouts, as he took the hard-luck loss to fall to 6-2, with a 2.28 ERA on the season. This was his fourth straight quality start and he has recorded one in nine of his 12 starts.He recorded the 3,118th strikeout of his career, passing Curt Schilling (3,116) and Bob Gibson (3,117) for 15th on Major League Baseball's all-time strikeout list. He is now just three strikeouts behind his old Tigers teammate Justin Verlander (3,121) for the most by an active pitcher. This was his first loss at Citi Field since May 17, 2016, and it ends a streak of 11 winning decisions here.
|Max Scherzer firing one to Luke Voit. Photo by Jason Schott.
Scherzer was making his first appearance at Citi Field since May 18, and his third start since returning from an oblique injury on July 5, and he came out firing, as he struck out four of the first five hitters.
Eric Hosmer doubled, and then Austin Nola walked, but Scherzer got Trent Grisham to ground out to first base to end the second inning.
In the third, San Diego got a couple runners on as C.J. Abrams was hit by a pitch, and then Jurickson Profar laid down a bunt, and Scherzer made a great play on it, but first baseman Pete Alonso let the ball pop out of his glove. Scherzer then got Jake Cronenworth to pop out to third base, struck out Manny Machado, and then got Nomar Mazara to pop out to short.
San Diego would cash in finally in the fourth, as ex-Yankee Luke Voit lined a rocket for a single, and then Hosmer went opposite field, hitting one into the seats in left field for a two-run shot to make it 2-0 San Diego.
Scherzer had no trouble then closing out the rest of the fourth, and retired the Pods in order in the fifth. In the sixth, Voit once again led off with a single, but this time Hosmer hit into a double play, and Nola struck out to end Scherzer's night.
Mets catcher Tomas Nido left after the sixth inning with what was then announced by the team as a "left hand contusion" with x-rays negative.
Joely Rodriguez relieved Scherzer in the seventh, and Grisham greeted him with a bomb to right field into the Mets bullpen for a solo home run to make it 3-0.
Profar then got a one-out single and Cronenworth walked, and that was all for Rodriguez.
Seth Lugo came on, and he walked Manny Machado to load the bases. Mazara then grounded one to first, and Alonso threw home to get Profar, but Mazeika then made an errant throw to first, which allowed Mazara to be safe and Cronenworth to come in to score and make it 4-0. Voit then hit a long fly out to center field to end the inning.
The Mets, who had only three baserunners through the first six innings (all singles), broke through in the bottom of the seventh. Jeff McNeil drew a one-out walk, and then, after Eduardo Escobar lined out to second base, Luis Guillorme hit a rocket that one-hopped the fence in front of the bullpens to bring in McNeil and make it 4-1 San Diego. Travis Blankenhorn grounded out to shortstop to end the inning, after a questionable call on a check swing for the second strike in the at-bat.
In the ninth, with closer Taylor Rogers in for the Padres, Alonso reached on a hit-by-pitch with one out, and then Jeff McNeil reached on an error, so the Mets had something of a rally brewing as they had runners at first and second base. It was not to be, as Escobar lined out to right field, and then Mark Canha, who was pinch-hitting for Guillorme because Rogers is a left-hander, grounded into a force out to end it. Rogers earned his Major League-leading 27th save of the season (for the record, he is tied with Josh Hader of Milwaukee.)