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Max Scherzer shelled for 7 in shocker; Mets pounded by Padres to drop Game 1

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The Morning Huddle covers the Mets Playoff picture
New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) waits on the mound with catcher Tomas Nido during a pitching change during the fifth inning of Game 1 of a National League wild-card baseball playoff series against the San Diego Padres, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Chalk this up as one of the more bizarre scenes baseball fans will see: A future Hall-of-Famer and three-time Cy Young Award winner being booed off the field after allowing a touchdown-and-extra-point’s-worth of runs in less than five innings. Well, that’s what happened to Max Scherzer.

When the Mets needed their ace the most, he not only couldn’t answer the call, he wasn’t even in the right area code.

The veteran right-hander was shellacked for a postseason-career-worst seven runs on four home runs in just 4.2 innings of work as the Mets were smacked 7-1 by the San Diego Padres in Game 1 of the 2022 NL Wild Card Series at Citi Field.

“Baseball can take you to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” Scherzer said. “This is one of the lowest of lows.”

Scherzer’s previous postseason-career-high was six runs allowed in Game 6 of the 2011 ALCS with the Detroit Tigers while Friday night proved to be the first time since Sept. of 2017 in which he allowed seven earned runs in any start. On top of that, his dud set a dubious Mets franchise record for most round-trippers allowed in a single playoff game. 

As is the nature of Major League Baseball’s new postseason format, the Mets’ backs are already up against the wall in the best-of-three series — meaning one more loss to San Diego ends their promising season.

For viewers hoping for a pitching duel, Padres starter Yu Darvish lived up to his end of the bargain as he continued his dominance against the Mets. Over seven innings, the righty allowed one run on six hits with four strikeouts.

He entered the night having gone 5-0 with a 2.86 ERA in his career against the Mets.

“We knew Darvish was going to be a challenge and he was,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “

Profar Mets Padres
San Diego Padres Jurickson Profar reacts as he rounds the bases after hitting a three-run home run against the New York Mets during the fifth inning of Game 1 of a National League wild-card baseball playoff series, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Before the hosts’ first turn at-bat, they were in a 2-0 hole — which was no place to be given Darvish’s track record against them. Scherzer got two outs in the first after Jurickson Profar singled on the first pitch of the night, but after falling behind 3-1 to Josh Bell, the San Diego lefty took a high fastball on the outer half of the plate and bombed it the other way over the right-center-field wall.

It swelled to 3-0 in the second when Trent Grisham socked the Padres’ second homer in as many innings — a shot into the right-field stands to put New York behind 3-0.

It was the first time since the 2019 Wild Card Game that Scherzer had allowed two home runs in the same postseason game and the fourth time ever in his career.

Meanwhile, the Mets failed to capitalize on early chances,w which didn’t do much to ease anxieties in Queens.

With runners on the corners and one out in the bottom of the first, Pete Alonso struck out looking before Daniel Vogelbach’s fly was caught by Juan Soto while colliding with the right-field wall right beneath the foul pole. 

They put another man on third in the second when Starling Marte singled in his first at-bat in 34 days upon returning from a fractured finger. He subsequently swiped second and third — bringing the Mets’ stolen-base total up to three at that point — but Eduardo Escobar struck out and Tomas Nido flew out. An eerily similar script compared to the first. 

New York left six men on base in total on Friday night while going a paltry 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

“We didn’t score any runs regardless of what expectations are from Max, which are always high given his track record,” Showalter said. 

Scherzer feigned a groove when he retired seven-straight Padres, but he imploded in the fifth when Profar snuck a three-run home run just inside the base of the foul pole to put the game away midway through the evening. Manny Machado made it 7-0 with a laser of a solo shot two batters later to run Scherzer from the game.

“I felt like my fastball was running on me. I didn’t have good fastball location,” Scherzer said. “Usually when I execute that, it stays on the glove side part of the plate and usually has ride… I wasn’t able to command that fastball the way I usually can. That’s my bread and butter… When my fastball’s running, that’s usually when I get hit a lot.”

“Obviously tonight, I got hit a lot.”

Escobar provided useless consolation to ensure the Mets would not be shutout, homering in the bottom of the fifth to pull the Mets within six — though they never showed any inkling that they’d get any closer. 

For more on the Mets, visit AMNY.com

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