It’s not often that spring training games are must-see events, but the Mets created such a Sunday at Clover Park by trotting out their two aces in Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer — who looked to be inching ever so closer to midseason form during a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
DeGrom, who started the first three innings while he slowly ramps up to a normal workload after being shut down last July due to elbow inflammation, struck out five while allowing one earned run on four hits. His fastball touched 99 mph, even though he admitted earlier this exhibition season that he won’t be going all-out this spring, during a first-inning that saw him strike out three while allowing a hit.
“Today I was trying to mix it up a little more,” deGrom said. “I wasn’t as sharp today as my first [spring training start]. I was trying to get my fastball to the glove side. My slider was decent in the first inning and then it wasn’t as sharp. So I was trying to throw more of those. It was all based on feel.”
He took time to focus on his curveball — a pitch that deGrom admitted Scherzer inspired him to work on — which saw him touched up for three more hits and a run over the following two frames.
“It’s something I’m working on and who knows? Maybe it’s something I’ll use during the year,” deGrom said. “[Scherzer and I] had talked about the curveball a little bit… That’s why I tried to throw it three times in a row today.
“He’s been in this league for a long time and faced these guys a bunch. To learn how he goes after them is big.”
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In stepped Scherzer for the final six innings of work, posting seven strikeouts with two earned runs on three hits and one walk over 89 pitches.
Quite a pretty daunting combination to have five combined Cy Young Awards to top a rotation.
“It’s definitely cool,” deGrom said. “But I’d rather be able to watch him pitch… I didn’t really get to see him pitch. It’s more cool to sit there and see how he attacks hitters.”
On the offensive side of things, Francisco Lindor smacked two home runs — one from each side of the plate — as he looks to prove that a disappointing 2021 season was a fluke.
His first round-tripper came from the left side of the plate in the third inning after an Eduardo Escobar sacrifice fly and a Tomas Nido home run. He sent a laser over the right-field wall to make it a 4-1 game.
In a 5-2 game in the seventh inning, he hit a majestic two-run shot over the left-field wall that was a no-doubter