Scherzer denied historic win by Yankees

Max passes Pedro on all-time K list, drops to 199-100 record for career

August 23rd, 2022

NEW YORK -- On Monday night at Yankee Stadium, there was no one the Mets would have rather entrusted the ball to than right-hander Max Scherzer. For a club with a rotation that also boasts two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, that’s no small consideration.

As the Subway Series shifted to the Bronx nearly a month after their initial heavyweight battle in Queens, the Mets and Yankees -- each still in first place in their respective division -- could not have gone on much more divergent paths. The Yankees had been ensnared in the deepest of funks amid a 5-14 August, while the Mets had walked away from all but one of their series this month victorious.

Scherzer had been here before, twirling seven scoreless innings on his 38th birthday to help the Mets sweep the season’s first installment of the Subway Series on July 26-27 at Citi Field, striking out AL MVP favorite Aaron Judge three times in the process.

But neither that experience nor his general big-game pedigree paid dividends for the Mets on Monday in a 4-2 loss, as Scherzer allowed a season-high-tying four runs over 6 2/3 innings and struck out just three batters, his lowest total of the year. He gave up a sacrifice fly to DJ LeMahieu in the first inning, a solo home run to Judge in the third and then a pair of run-scoring hits to Andrew Benintendi (a double in the fifth and a single in the seventh), all culminating in just his third loss of the season.

The result also prevented the 15-year veteran from earning his 200th career victory. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Scherzer was on the cusp of joining Pedro Martinez, Juan Marichal, Whitey Ford, Lefty Grove and Grover Cleveland Alexander as the only pitchers in the Modern Era (since 1900) to win their 200th career game before their 100th career loss. Instead, Scherzer’s big league record fell to 199-100.

Still, manager Buck Showalter was having none of the insinuation that Scherzer’s performance played an outsized role in the Mets’ defeat in the opener of the two-game series.

“[He] gave us a chance to win on the road against a really good team. Not many people are doing what he did tonight,” Showalter said. “A lot of people come in there and struggle. Don’t act like he didn’t have a good outing. He was really solid. There was nothing wrong with Max. It’s very hard to do, and he did it at a high level.”

Scherzer (3,157 career K's) also climbed into sole possession of 13th place on the all-time strikeout list, passing Martinez (3,154).

Yet, Scherzer was outpitched by Yankees starter Domingo Germán, who was making just his seventh appearance of the season since coming off the injured list in late July. Germán held the Mets' hitters to two runs (one earned), with the damage only coming against his final batter of the night.

After Yankees rookie second baseman Oswaldo Cabrera dropped a popup in shallow right field that sparked memories of Luis Castillo’s infamous blunder in 2009, Daniel Vogelbach clubbed a two-run homer to right-center that cut the Mets’ deficit to one.

The Mets’ portion of the sold-out crowd of 48,760 -- Yankee Stadium’s highest paid attendance since Sept. 22, 2013 -- erupted at the thought that their team could steal a victory back. But that blast turned out to be all they had to cheer for on Monday.

Scherzer, for his part, had no problem wearing that after the game. It was his second consecutive start in which he gave up four runs in six-plus innings, and the three-time Cy Young winner was willing to acknowledge that even the best sometimes have their stumbles.

“You know in the Subway Series, everything’s going to be amped up,” Scherzer said. “It was a grind of a start. Credit Germán for throwing the ball as well as he did; it kept the pressure on me. … You got to take some licks when you lose, move on, try to figure it out and get better next time.

“It’s baseball. You’re never quite as good as your good outings … and maybe you’re not quite as bad as your bad outings. I’ve pitched long enough to know you’ve got to stay even-keeled.”