Max Scherzer leads Mets in double-headed sweep

The easy choice, for Max Scherzer, would have been to start the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Citi Field. Pitchers thrive on ...

The easy choice, for Max Scherzer, would have been to start the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Citi Field. Pitchers thrive on routine, and only the opening game had a scheduled time for the first pitch. Scherzer has a Hall of Fame resume, and had he insisted on Game 1 for his first home start as the Met, he could have done whatever he wanted.

“They make the decision, but I always like to kick off Game 2 because I like to know where the bullpen situation is,” Scherzer said late Tuesday night after the Mets swept the Giants from San Francisco to start a four-game series that ends Thursday. “There are different things you can do to try and get more length if you need it. I like having this pressure, like tonight. I really had seven rounds circled. It was the mark that I really, really, really wanted to achieve.

That mentality wasn’t the reason the Mets made Scherzer baseball’s highest-paid player last December. Scherzer’s ability to master hitters, even at age 37, landed him a three-year, $130 million contract in free agency. But a subtle gesture like Tuesday’s was part of the package, a sign that despite all his personal accomplishments, Scherzer is first and foremost a team player.

Manager Buck Showalter found Scherzer in his office after the Mets won Game 1, 5-4, on a single by Francisco Lindor in the 10th inning. Scherzer peppered his manager with questions – the start time, the weather – and Showalter thought he looked like a colt, eager to be released.

The Mets had used four relievers in Game 1, giving Scherzer a goal and an urgency to meet him. Before Tuesday, only one pitcher in the majors, Nathan Eovaldi of the Boston Red Sox, had thrown 100 pitches in a game this season. Showalter has set an even higher height limit for Scherzer: 110.

He wouldn’t need that much to get to his destination. Scherzer went seven innings for 102 pitches, allowing just one hit, a two-out single from Darin Ruf in the sixth inning. Scherzer walked three, struck out 10 and won, 3-1for his third win in three outings.

“It’s Max Scherzer – it’s the same thing you see every time he goes,” said Giants starter Logan Webb, who lost for the first time in 23 starts. “I didn’t know it was his home debut, so I thought, ‘Man, he’s probably gonna do something pretty cool. “”

Webb witnessed something pretty cool last October — from Scherzer’s perspective, anyway — in the Giants’ final divisional series game with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Scherzer, who had started twice in the previous eight days, came out of the bullpen to win the series with his first career stoppage.

It came at a price: Scherzer worked hard on his start in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series and couldn’t take the ball for Game 6 in Atlanta. But he did what he had to do to get the Dodgers this far.

It’s safe to say that Scherzer’s arm has recovered very well. He looks exactly like the pitcher the Mets expected, with a 2.50 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 18 innings. He retired his first eight batters on Tuesday, walked Curt Casali, then put down the next nine in a row to put the formation back on again.

“My rule of thumb is when you place the order once, you have something in the works,” Scherzer said. “You get the order twice, you have a chance. So for me, it was placing the order twice, that’s when you start to get there, and in the seventh and eighth, that’s when it really comes into play. “

After a pair of two-out walks in the sixth, it seemed clear that Scherzer’s pitch count was getting too high to complete nine innings. Showalter didn’t like the idea of ​​pulling Scherzer out of a no-hitter, and Ruf spared him the decision by hitting a clean single to left.

But Scherzer had completely dominated the Giants; his best pitches, he said, were his high fastball and cutter, which he buried in the hands of the six left-handed hitters on their lineup — a shrewd strategy on a cold, windswept night. .

With no sweat to help his grip, Scherzer said the baseball felt like a white ball in his hand. It was frustrating, he said, but who could tell?

“That’s just the level he competes at every time, so that’s what you expect every time he’s out there,” receiver Tomas Nido said. “But I guess the plan was going a lot smoother than when it wasn’t one of those sorts of nights, because everything was working perfectly.”

Even by Scherzer’s high standards, it was an extraordinary outing, only the fifth of his 401 career starts in which he allowed no more than one hit.

He had two hits for Washington in 2015, including a 17-out gem against the World Series-bound Mets on the penultimate day of the season in Flushing. This performance was one of the best in history, the only game in which a pitcher allowed no hits or walked with more than 15 strikeouts. A teammate’s mistake prevented Scherzer from achieving perfection.

Now those dazzling Scherzer nights belong to the Mets — who, of course, have another ace, Jacob deGrom, on the disabled list. They are 9-3, the only team in Eastern Newfoundland with a winning record, and made a strong statement early Tuesday.

“We can compete with the best,” Scherzer said, congratulating the Giants, who had the most major tournament wins last season. “For us to be neck and neck with them both games shows that we are a great ball club as well.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Max Scherzer leads Mets in double-headed sweep
Max Scherzer leads Mets in double-headed sweep
Newsrust - US Top News
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