Scherzer takes first loss in 343 days: 'Heck of a run'
Alonso's two HRs spark Game 2 win, doubleheader split
PHILADELPHIA -- It took a series of seeing-eye singles on a cold and blustery day in Philadelphia after having his start pushed back twice by consecutive rainouts, but Max Scherzer finally took his first loss in nearly a year on Sunday.
Scherzer was on the losing end of the Mets' 3-2 defeat in the opener of a doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park, marking his first loss since May 30 of last season as a member of the Nationals.
While Scherzer's streak ended, Pete Alonso made sure another continued by recording his 12th career multi-homer game to lead New York to a 6-1 victory in the nightcap. The Mets, who took two of three from the Phils, have not lost any of their nine series this season.
Scherzer's 24-start streak without a loss is tied for the sixth-longest in the Modern Era (since 1900). The record belongs to Roger Clemens, who went 30 straight starts without a loss from June 3, 1998-June 1, 1999.
"Heck of a run," Scherzer said. "Obviously, it takes your teammates to be able to do that, I'll always say that. It's also kind of cool to be a part of it."
Scherzer was certainly "a part" of it all. He went 15-0 with a 2.55 ERA while striking out 183 batters over 141 innings during a 24-start run that spanned three teams.
Scherzer was undefeated in his final eight starts with the Nationals, never lost a game in his 11 regular-season starts in a Dodgers uniform and remained unbeaten through five starts as a Met.
"You've got to go out there and give your team a chance to win," Scherzer said. "That's your job as a starting pitcher, to go out there and give your team a chance to win."
Even on Sunday, a day when Scherzer clearly didn't have his best stuff, he did just that. Despite being tagged for 10 hits -- just the third time he's allowed double-digit hits in the last seven seasons -- Scherzer held the Phillies to three runs while striking out seven and walking none in six innings.
Though Bryce Harper took Scherzer deep in the first inning, each of Philadelphia's next nine hits off Scherzer were singles, and many were weakly hit. In fact, the Phillies' four weakest-hit balls off Scherzer all resulted in singles -- and three of those came in the fourth inning alone.
"That was impressive," manager Buck Showalter said. "Six days off, third time he's faced a team this season already, couldn't grip the baseballs. ... For Max to work his way through six, I think they had two hard-hit balls off him the whole day. Just one of those days where balls fell on."
The average exit velocity on the Phillies' 10 hits against Scherzer was 85.9 mph. Of the 122 instances of a pitcher allowing at least 10 hits over the last three seasons, only six have had those hits average less than 86 mph.
"It's part of baseball for them to get some singles to get in, but I just felt like they got a lot of singles to fall in," Scherzer said. "But that's just part of the game."
Losing is also typically part of the game -- even if it hasn't been in Scherzer's case over the past year. It also hasn’t been a frequent occurrence this season for the Mets, who have still lost back-to-back games only one time this season after bouncing back to win Game 2. That victory also made them the first team to 20 wins in the Majors this season.
“Let's go Mets. That's great,” Alonso said. “But again, we want to win the division. That's the ultimate goal and I feel like, for us, we've had a great start. ... It's just been so fun to play with these guys, and that's what we want to do.”
The win was picked up by Chris Bassitt, who tossed 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball to lower his season ERA to 2.45. Bassitt threw the same exact number of pitches (101) and strikes (65) as Scherzer, who was originally supposed to start on Friday before nonstop rain washed out a pair of games.
But that didn’t matter to Scherzer. Nor did it matter that it was 52 degrees at first pitch, with 20 mph sustained winds on Sunday.
"You've got to be able to adapt to anything. This is baseball," Scherzer said. "Anything can happen and here we go: Boom, two rainouts and you've got to be able to adapt to it, go out and compete and win. Conditions and all that, I just will not make an excuse for anything. My job is to go out there, compete and win under any circumstances, any conditions."
For nearly a year, that's all Scherzer did. And it's that mentality that makes Showalter believe there is plenty more winning to come in 2022.
"That's Max," Showalter said. "He's a guy who never embraces excuses."