Thursday, June 1, 2023

Scherzer Stifles Phillies As Mets Complete Sweep

Max Scherzer firing one in against Kody Clemens in the fourth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

Max Scherzer looked like his old self, and Mark Canha delivered another two-run home run to power the Mets' 4-2 win over the Phillies on Thursday afternoon at Citi Field to complete the three-game sweep.

The Mets have now won eight in a row at home as they improved to 30-27, while Philadelphia fell to 25-31.

Scherzer has made his slow start to this season feel like a distant memory, as he threw seven innings, and allowed just two runs (both earned) on five hits and a walk, with nine strikeouts. The Mets ace improved to 5-2, and lowered his ERA (earned run average) to 3.21. In his last four starts, he is 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA, with 28 strikeouts and just four walks.

"He's just been Max," Mets Manager Buck Showalter said when asked what's been different in his last four starts. "You know, I marvel at him, at the level he does it at, at this stage in his career. You know as the pure stuff starts a little down, you know, the knowledge of pitching and everything goes up. You saw it a lot with guys like (Greg) Maddux and (Tom) Glavine, those guys used to throw 94, 95; at the end, they were throwing 91, 92 with great command. Max has got a very talented hand, he can maneuver the ball, and make pitches, change the shape a little bit of his slider and cutter. You see that many left-handed hitters in there, you know that he's going to have to do something with the baseball other than just locate a fastball."

Philadelphia, who sleepwalked through the first two games of this series, came out with some urgency. Trea Turner got a one-out single, followed by a walk to Bryce Harper. 

While Nick Castellanos was up, Turner and Harper executed a double-steal that worked to perfection, as Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez was caught surprise and fired his throw to third base into left field, allowing Turner to score.

Castellanos then hit a fly ball to center field for a sacrifice fly to bring in Harper and make it 2-0 Phillies.

Taijuan Walker, who spent the last two seasons with the Mets, as shown in the pregame tribute video they played, got the start for the Phillies. 

Taijuan Walker pitching to Jeff McNeil in the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

After sailing through the first two innings, Walker ran into trouble in the third.

Brandon Nimmo and Francisco Lindor each drew two-out walks, followed by an RBI single from Jeff McNeil to cut Phladelphia's lead to 2-1.

The Phillies rallied in the fourth, as Castellanos singled with out, and Brandon Marsh also singled to give them runners on first and third with two out. Scherzer then got Kody Clemens to bounce out to second base to end the inning. They only got one more hit, from Castellanos in the sixth, off Scherzer in his final three innings.

In the bottom of the fourth, with one out, Starling Marte was hit by a pitch, and then after Daniel Vogelbach flew out to left field, drawing a smattering of boos, Mark Canha, who had four RBI, including a two-run homer, on Wednesday night, came to the plate.

Incredibly, Canha blasted one to practically the same place in the left field seats for a two-run home run and the Mets were suddenly up, 3-2. Canha now has five home runs and 18 RBI after this offensive outburst against the Phillies.

Walker would not come back out for the fifth inning, as the lineup turned over, so his final line was: 4 innings pitched, 2 hits, 3 runs (all earned), 3 walks, 2 strikeouts. He would go on to take the loss and fall to 4-3 and his ERA went up a tick to 5.65.

The Phillies turned to left-hander Matt Strahm in the fifth, and he worked around a Brandon Nimmo leadoff single. He stayed on for the sixth, and gave up a leadoff double to Brett Baty.

Marte then bunted Baty over to third base, and Mark Vientos (hitting for Vogelbach) brought him home with a sacrifice fly to center field, which brought a cheer from the crowd, and the Mets opened up a 4-2 lead. 

Since Adam Ottavino and David Robertson pitched in the first two games of this series, the Mets had to turn to different names to close it out. Jeff Brigham came on for the eighth, and he retired the Phillies in order, with a strikeout of Bryson Stott.

Left-hander Brooks Raley entered for the ninth, and he opened it by striking out Bryce Harper, and then after Castellanos singled, he struck out Schwarber.

Drew Smith then came on to face Drew Ellis, who was pinch-hitting for Brandon Marsh, and he struck him out to end it and earn his second save of the season.

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