Max Scherzer must have gotten a ride to Minute Maid Park in Dr. Emmett Brown’s DeLorean because he went “Back to the Future” last night in Houston.
Scherzer tossed eight strong innings and had plenty of support from the offense as the Mets blasted the Astros, 11-1 in what was probably the most satisfying win of the season.
“It was big for the team,” Mets Manager Buck Showalter said. “The satisfaction he’s gonna get out of that is what it did for our bullpen. We’re in a real need to get deep in that game, for him to go eight innings, that was pretty special in a lot of ways.”
The right hander had everything working, including his slider that he was searching for in his last outing against the Yankees. Scherzer got seven swings and misses and four of his strikeouts with his slider that he used 34.1% of the time in the game. “Was able to pitch with it and keep it, for the most part, where I wanted to tonight,” Scherzer said afterwards.
He was efficient as he got a number of quick outs and threw only 91 pitches in eight innings of work. Scherzer gave up one run, with one walk and eight strikeouts and kept the aggressive Astros’ hitters off balance in what was a vintage performance by the 3x Cy Young Award winner.
Scherzer had never gone eight innings as a Met. The last time was September, 2021 when he was with the Dodgers.
“It’s our job to go out there and pitch deep, frankly I haven’t been doing that the past couple of starts,” Scherzer said. “To go out there tonight and to be able to get deep into ballgame, it keeps some of those guys [bullpen] out of the game. Give them a day off.”
A couple of players who were struggling came to life as Francisco Lindor and Daniel Vogelbach combined for 8 RBIs and had two hits apiece. Tommy Pham continued his hot hitting with two more hits while six Mets in all had multi hit games including Brett Baty, Starling Marte and Jeff McNeil.
Lindor homered and drove in five batting from the left side where he had been particularly poor. The Mets switch-hitting shortstop has had much better swings recently from the left side. In previous games, Lindor’s left hand was flying off the bat, but lately, he’s swinging through the zone with more authority and both hands staying on the bat and getting better results.
“He’s the same personality every day, he’s the same guy who walks in the door, he plays with passion and concern for his teammates, Showalter said. “If he sees somebody hurting, it’s always about somebody else, it’s not about him.”
Vogelbach snapped a scoreless tie leading off the third against Astros rookie starting pitcher Hunter Brown, as he hit his second home run in the four games that he’s played since his return from the time off for a mental reset.
Baty and Francisco Alvarez followed with the back to back singles and Lindor brought them in with his 14th home run of the season that gave the Mets a 5-0 lead.
The Mets added a run in the sixth and then blew the game open with a second five run inning in the ninth.
Scherzer kept rolling along but faced some trouble in the sixth. With one out, Martin Maldonado singled. Scherzer threw one pitch to Jose Altuve who popped out to second for the second out but Alex Bregman singled to put two men on. Scherzer got ahead of the dangerous Kyle Tucker 1-2, and then put him away with a nasty slider that the Astros right fielder had no chance to hit.
In the eighth, Scherzer walked Jake Myers to start the inning but he got Maldonado on a swinging strikeout and then finished his outing in style as he induced Jose Altuve to bounce into an inning ending double play.
In the ninth, Lindor drove in two more with a double to give him a team leading 50 RBIs. Pham had a run batted in to make it a 9-1 game. In his past 16 games, Pham has 18 RBIs.
Vogelbach closed the scoring with a two run single to give him a season high tying three RBIs. “Contributing means a lot to him and I think, obviously, everyone’s been pulling for him for a lot of reasons,” said Showalter.
Alvarez was clipped on his throwing hand by a foul ball and left the game in the ninth. Initial x-rays were negative but he’ll be further evaluated. After the game, Alvarez, through an interpreter, said he feels really good and is not worried about the injury, but the Mets will be holding their collective breaths.
It was a very good night for the Mets who played a clean game and put it all together, something that has been severely lacking this season.
They’ll try to keep it rolling tonight as Justin Verlander returns to Houston for the first time since he signed with the Mets.