What went wrong for Max Scherzer in Mets' ugly Game 1 loss to Padres
NEW YORK — The Citi Field crowd tried to back Max Scherzer, but with each passing home run it became too much to bear.
After the Mets ace gave up a solo home run to Manny Machado — the second long ball of the fifth inning — the 41,621 fans' cheers evaporated into a chorus of boos.
Scherzer gave up seven earned runs on four home runs and seven total hits as the Mets' return to the postseason took a sour turn before the game reached the halfway point. Scherzer's implosion left a stunned fanbase as the Mets plummeted to a 7-1 loss in the first game of the teams' best-of-three wild card series at Citi Field.
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After the top of the fifth inning, the Mets were forced to try and dig out of a seven-run hole.
It was the most earned runs that Scherzer has allowed in 27 postseason starts and the first time since Sept. 13, 2017, that he had given up seven earned runs.
Going into his start, Scherzer shook off the notion that his oblique, which sidelined him initially for seven weeks in the summer and two more in September, was fine.
Now, the Mets' dream season is on the brink of coming to an abrupt end. The Mets are expected to turn to Jacob deGrom to try and stave off elimination on their home field.
The first two shots could have been chalked up to solid hitting from the Padres.
In the opening inning after Jurickson Profar led off the game with a broken-bat bloop into center field, Josh Bell pushed an outside fastball the other way and over the left-center field wall. And in the third inning, Trent Grisham was able to turn on a high fastball and poke it over the left-field wall.
With the Mets trailing 3-0, Scherzer appeared to settle in. He sent down the next seven batters in order. But the bottom fell out in the top of the fifth.
Ha-Seong Kim singled the other way and No. 9 hitter Austin Nola sliced a ground-rule double off the right-field line. Then, Jurickson Profar hit a first-pitch cutter inside the right-field foul pole to put the Padres ahead 6-0.
After getting Juan Soto to ground out, Machado muscled a line-drive over the left field wall, summoning Buck Showalter out of the dugout and cueing the fans' instinctual reaction.
It was the first time any Mets starting pitcher has given up four home runs in a single postseason start.
On three different occasions the Mets had a runner 90 feet from home plate but could not cash in.
After falling into a two-run deficit early, Francisco Lindor was hit by a pitch, stole second and move to third on a single by Jeff McNeil. But Pete Alonso was frozen on a third-pitch fastball and Daniel Vogelbach flew out deep to the right-field corner.
In the bottom of the second, Starling Marte was stranded at third after his two stolen bases in the next inning.
And in the fifth inning after the Mets got on the board with a solo home run from Eduardo Escobar, Brandon Nimmo tripled into the right-field corner. But the momentum was halted when Lindor popped up to second base.
The Mets knocked six hits in the game and left six runners on base. The Padres, meanwhile, collected seven hits and allowed stranded one.
Starling Marte makes instant impact
Starling Marte admitted that he was still dealing with some discomfort in his middle finger on his right hand, which had been fractured when he was hit by a pitch on Sept. 6.
But after more than a month away, the Mets was able to grip a bat and throw. With the postseason getting underway, that was enough for him to get back in the lineup in the No. 6 spot.
Marte showed exactly what the Mets had been missing in the bottom of the second inning when he laced a single up the middle against Yu Darvish before stealing second and third base. He also added an infield single in the bottom of the ninth.
He was called to action once in the field and proved his value once again.
In the top of the seventh inning, Grisham lofted a drive into the right-center field gap and Marte went sprinting back and made the catch while colliding with the wall.