Saturday, September 3, 2022

Max Misses Out On History Again

Max Scherzer pitching to Joey Meneses in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.


On Saturday night at Citi Field, Mets starter Max Scherzer was attempting to win the 200th game of his career for the third time, and once again, he came up short,  and got a no-decision as his old team, the Washington Nationals, beat the Mets 7-1.

Scherzer gave up a home run to the second batter of the game, Luis Garcia, and then he got some nifty defense. In the second inning, Cesar Hernandez singled, and then was caught stealing. In the next inning, Garcia came up with two on base and one out and popped one up to shortstop that Francisco Lindor let drop in front of him, so he threw to third base to get the lead runner out, and Eduardo Escobar fired back to second to complete the double play, just a good ol' 6-4-5 double play.

The Mets tied it in the bottom of the third when Escobar hit a solo shot, the second straight night he homered, and his 14th dinger of the season. That was all the Mets could get off Nationals starter Patrick Corbin. (more on him later)

Scherzer then retired the Nationals in order in the fourth and fifth inning, and notched three strikeouts. 

Surprisingly, Scherzer did not come back for the sixth inning. His final line read: 5 innings pitched, 3 hits, 1 run (earned), 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, and he threw only 67 pitches, with 43 of them strikes.

"He probably could have continued to pitch, but just didn't think it was a good idea," Mets Manager Buck Showalter addressed Scherzer's early exit after the game. "He had some left side fatigue that he didn’t want to push through. He didn't ask to come out, Max is never going to do that, just feedback and stuff, what was going on, just didn't think it was a good idea to push it, hopefully he'll make his next start...

"Max is very good about understanding the big picture. He's as good as it gets, that's why he's done the things he's done, as far as knowing himself and knowing where it is. I'll say it again, he didn't have to come out of the game. He's very frank about what he's thinking and feeling, and we reacted to what a really good pitcher that knows himself said. I'm able to have that communication all year, and it's worked out pretty well, and tonight was a good example of that."

Scherzer still had a lot of superlatives to his start. His five strikeouts on the night pushed him past the 150-K mark in a season for the 13th time in his career, tied with his old Detroit Tigers teammate Justin Verlander for the eight-most such seasons all-time.

In his first 10 home starts as a Met, Scherzer has a 1.67 ERA (earned run average), the best of any pitcher in that span (minimum 50 innings pitched). He also has 76 strikeouts in those first 10 starts at Citi Field, which ranks third behind Dwight Gooden (87) and Nolan Ryan (82).

Scherzer’s record remains at 9-4, with a 2.26 ERA (32 ER/127.2 IP). The ERA is the best all-time by a Mets pitcher through their first 20 games with the team (minimum 100.0 IP). He also has a 0.92 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched), which is the second-best in that span, behind Pedro Martinez’s 0.85.

Corbin continued to stifle the Mets, as he went seven innings, and kept it a 1-1 game. He only allowed that one run (the Escobar homer) on three hits and a walk, with five strikeouts.

Patrick Corbin pitching to Eduardo Escobar in the fifth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

After Tommy Hunter pitched a scoreless sixth, after working around a Lane Thomas single and a Garcia double, and Joely Rodriguez kept Washington off the board in the seventh, the Mets turned to Adam Ottavino for the eighth.

The big right-hander, who has become arguably the most reliable arm out there not named Edwin Diaz, gave up a home run to Thomas with one out, and that made it 2-1 Nationals.

The Mets had a big chance in the bottom of the eighth inning against Carl Edwards, Jr., as Escobar drew a walk, and was erased in a force out hit into by Brandon Nimmo for the second out. Starling Marte kept it alive with an infield single, giving them two runners on for Francisco Lindor, and he popped out to shortstop to end the inning.

The Nationals took advantage of a thin Mets bullpen in the ninth, as they put up five runs against Adonis Medina, who was making just his 14th appearance of the season, to make it 7-1. The Mets were forced to bring in Bryce Montas de Oca, who they called up on Saturday when Trevor May went on the injured list, to get  the final two outs, including his first Major League strikeout.

Corbin got the win for Washington, improving to 6-17 on the season, and lowering his ERA (earned run average) from 6.56 to 6.28.

"We couldn't get anything mounted anything offensively. We had opportunities, we couldn't cash them in," Showalter said. "We had a couple chances there...We just didn't score any runs. Corbin's coming off a good outing, been pitching well lately, I thought that was as good as I've seen him. He had command, and a little extra crispness to his stuff tonight." 

The Mets' record drops to 85-49, and they saw their National League East lead drop to two games, as the Atlanta Braves (83-51) beat the Miami Marlins, 2-1.

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