It’s hard to win a race with one foot tied to an anchor.
But that’s exactly what the Mets have done to themselves, losing Game One to the Padres in their weekend Wild Card Series, 7-1.
Heralded Ace 1A Max Scherzer was not even close to his A1 sort of game, giving up home runs to San Diego like candy on Halloween.
Leadoff batter Jurickson Profar gave a portend of things to come with a base hit to left, and two batters later former teammate Josh Bell took Scherzer deep in the first inning to give San Diego a 2-0 lead.
Eighth-place hitter Trent Grisham, sporting a .184 average, went deep in the second inning to up the ante.
Profar and Manny Machado took trots around the bases in the fifth to hang a seven spot on Scherzer. Mets skipper Buck Showalter finally got the message and replaced his $43.3 million dollar starter with Trevor May to slow the bleeding.
Apparently, Scherzer wasn’t able to correct some of the command issues that have doomed recent starts.
“I felt like my fastball was rising on me,” Scherzer said postgame. “Usually when I execute it has rise and stays on the glove side. I wasn’t able to command the fastball as I normally can. I thought I made the adjustment after the Atlanta start but my fastball looked like it was sinking instead of rising.”
As we have come to expect from Scherzer, he was both blunt and positive at the same time.
“Baseball can take you to the highest highs and the lowest lows. This was the lows…You turn the page, move on. If I get another shot to pitch, I know what to do.”
Showalter stuck with Scherzer until it was painfully obvious he wasn’t going to find that command.
“A lot of pitches were leaking on him,” Showalter said postgame. “He normally can make adjustments but tonight he wasn’t able to. We know how hard it is to do what Max does.”
Padres starter Yu Darwish was as masterful against the Mets as he was in two previous starts against them earlier this year. It seemed like he had the Mets popping up like a Pez dispenser half the time, and a lot of fly balls then other half, but only reached the seats. Eduardo Escobar finally eliminated the shutout with a homer off Darwish in the fifth.
Most of their better struck fly balls died on the warning track.
So now the Mets have the unenviable task of taking two straight from the Pads over the weekend or their postseason will come to an abrupt halt.
Faced with elimination, Showalter altered his starting pitching choice and is going with Jacob deGrom instead of Chris Bassit in Game Two.
The two-time Cy Young winner is looking forward to his first postseason start in Citi Field.
“I’m excited,” deGrom beamed. “The one in 2015, I didn’t have my best stuff, but you try to execute to the best of your ability.”
The blister that curtailed his last start is no longer an issue.
“The finger is good. I was able to go off the mound twice this week and it felt great. I thought I threw the ball well. I’m going to try and eliminate mistakes and stick to the game plan.”
Showalter never pushes the panic button, even with the thought of just one more pass at the gold ring.
“It’s reality. We’ve got a chance to right the ship tomorrow, and I have of confidence in them.”