Burnes hopes for October rematch after rough start vs. Mets

On the outside looking in, playoff-hopeful Brewers dominated by Scherzer

September 20th, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- For one near-perfect pass through the lineups in Monday’s 7-2 Mets win over the Brewers at American Family Field, the first matchup of former Cy Young Award winners Max Scherzer and Corbin Burnes met all the hype.

Both faced the minimum through three. Burnes, the Brewers’ ace, had surrendered the only hit, an Eduardo Escober infield single followed promptly by a double play. Scherzer, making his first start for the Mets off a two-week stint on the injured list, was perfect -- and he remained so all the way through the end of the sixth.

For those first three innings, it was the pitchers’ duel 25,671 fans came to see.

And then, it wasn’t.

Pete Alonso hit a towering, three-run home run on a two-strike pitch in the fourth as the Mets knocked Burnes around in the middle innings of a win that clinched New York’s spot in the National League’s postseason field. The NL East remains up for grabs, but the worst the Mets can do is one of the Wild Card spots the Brewers are now desperately seeking.

“If we get in, I’d love to play them,” Burnes said. “It’s a good squad, and you always want to beat the best. Obviously, they’re in first place in that division. So if we get in, I’d love to play them.”

Scherzer earned his 200th win and his bid for MLB’s 24th perfect game ended after six innings only because of his limited pitch count. He navigated those 18 outs on 68 pitches with nine strikeouts and no signs of the left oblique irritation that had landed him on the IL.

Some loud early contact -- Andrew McCutchen hit a 103.8 mph lineout to right field ending the second inning, and Jace Peterson hit a 106.6 mph lineout to center field leading off the third -- made way for strikeouts, popouts and ground balls for the rest of Scherzer’s outing. Six of his strikeouts came against the final 10 men he faced before righty reliever Tylor Megill inherited the bid for a perfect game in the seventh inning.

“It wasn’t [a hard decision], because I know where I’m at in this rehab process,” Scherzer said. “I wasn’t going to have a chance to go and complete it. You just have to take your victories when you can get them.” 

“He’s one of the best in the game, and he was really good tonight,” Peterson said. 

The Brewers ended the Mets’ bid for a combined perfect game when Christian Yelich knocked Megill’s second pitch for a double, and two pitches later, the game was within reach at 5-2 on Rowdy Tellez’s second home run in as many days and his 32nd this season.

The Mets, however, tacked on two runs against Justin Topa in the eighth and remained atop the tight NL East standings at 94-55.

The Brewers are 78-69 with 15 games left to play after consecutive losses to the Yankees and Mets, and they missed a chance Monday to gain a half-game on both of the teams they are chasing in the NL Wild Card standings. Instead, the loss dropped the Brewers three games back of the Padres and 2 1/2 games back of the Phillies. Making that task more challenging, the Brewers don’t own the tiebreaker against either team.

“We need to win games at this point in the year, so to go out and not win a baseball game hurts,” Burnes said.

Of all his 100 pitches, a 1-2 changeup below the zone to Alonso hurt the most. Burnes had thrown only 16 changeups to right-handed hitters all season entering Monday, but he’d been working away to Mets hitters most of the night and had just seen Alonso pull a curveball left up in the zone for a loud foul ball. Burnes figured he’d bury a changeup and hoped Alonso would swing over it.

Alonso hit it 437 feet to the left-field bleachers for a 3-0 Mets lead.

“[The sequencing is] probably something I’ll dive deeper into tonight or tomorrow,” Burnes said. “The pitch selection and sequencing probably led to some of those hits that should have been strikeouts or rollovers or something. I’ll go back and look at it, but the stuff was, for the most part, where we wanted.” 

Scherzer found smoother sailing. 

If the Brewers want another crack at him in 2022, it would have to be in the postseason. 

“What he’s done is incredible,” Burnes said. “To pitch this long in the league, still be at the top of his game and still going out there doing what he does is awesome. As a young pitcher, guys who want to pitch in this league for a long time, it’s something you look up to -- what he’s done and what he can still do.”