Mets manager Buck Showalter had hoped prior to Sunday’s series finale against the Colorado Rockies that it wouldn’t be a let-down for his Mets after an emotional Old Timers’ Day the previous afternoon.
It turned out to be just that as German Marquez’s seven-inning gem that ultimately held the Mets to just three hits provided a tough 1-0 loss for Max Scherzer, whose wait for a 200th career win continues after losing to the Yankees on Tuesday. A lone RBI sacrifice fly in the seventh inning from Brian Serven was all the damage inflicted on him, providing a sour end to a four-game set in which the Mets took the first three games.
The losing decision was no fault of Scherzer’s, though, as the veteran righty went seven strong innings (112 pitches) with 11 strikeouts while surrendering four hits and one walk.
“I did a lot of good things today,” Scherzer, whose 110 career double-digit strikeout games ties him for third-most all-time in MLB history with Roger Clemens, said. “I was able to sequence guys, keep them off balance, and make pitches when I needed to…
Marquez, who entered Sunday’s contest with a 5.22 ERA this season, assumed the role of Colorado’s ace in the pitcher’s duel as he allowed just one hit and struck out five — the lone hit he allowed coming in the form of a Jeff McNeil single in the fifth.
“We knew coming into the series that he was going to be a challenge,” Showalter said. “He has a really good arm, hard sink… We have to honor the command he has. He kept the ball down in the zone… He had a lot of counts in his favor and we couldn’t get a lot of momentum against him.”
The two starters traded zeroes for the first four innings, though the Mets could not muster a hit against the Rockies’ starter — their lone base runner coming in the first inning when Pete Alonso walked.
Scherzer allowed just one hit while striking out five during that span — a first-inning single from Charlie Blackmon that offered little cause for concern.
“Max was outstanding,” Showalter said. “He was solid for us. That was impressive… the pitching was legit today.”
A walk to Sam Hilliard in the top of the fifth was the first base-runner for either team since the second inning when Scherzer hit Randal Grichuk.
Hilliard would steal second to become the game’s first runner in scoring position with one out, but Scherzer would strike out Serven before getting a Garrett Hampson groundout to escape.
McNeil would finally get the Mets’ first hit of the afternoon with a clean single to left to lead off the fifth, but he would be stranded on second after coaxing a balk from Marquez, who retired the next three batters he faced in order.
“You’re aware of the scoreboard,” Scherzer said. “When you’re in a 0-0 ballgame, you know any little thing can beat you.”
After a quick sixth, Scherzer ran into big-time trouble in the seventh when three straight singles — a rip down the left-field line by CJ Cron, a bunt single by Jose Iglesias, and an infield squibber by Grichuk — loaded the bases for Colorado with no outs.
While he struck out Hilliard, Serven sent a long fly to right field that allowed Cron to tag up and score the game’s first run, putting Scherzer on the hook for a hard-luck loss.
“A couple of infield hits kind of set the stage for them to scratch a run across,” Scherzer said. “I was fortunate enough to limit the damage to one… but this is Major League Baseball. Anything can happen every single day and you have to be prepared for that.”
Brett Baty picked up the Mets’ second hit of the afternoon with a one-out single in the eighth and proceeded to move up to second on a wild pitch by Rockies reliever Carlos Estevez. But pinch hitter Starling Marte and Brandon Nimmo struck out to let the Mets’ last big chance fall by the wayside.
“We won three games against a major league out of four,” Showalter said. “That’s really hard to do. I don’t care where you’re playing, who you’re playing. Coming off a tough road trip, I’m proud of our effort.”