Scherzer, deGrom make Opening Day history
Mets, Nats aces become just 2nd pair of opposing starters to strike out at least 10 on Opening Day
The Opening Day duel between Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom more than lived up to the hype. In fact, they made Opening Day history.
Both aces reached double-digit strikeouts at Nationals Park on Thursday in the Mets' season-opening 2-0 win over the Nationals. Scherzer, making his fourth Opening Day start in five seasons with Washington, struck out 12; deGrom, in his first career Opening Day start, struck out 10. It's just the second Opening Day game in which both starting pitchers had at least 10 strikeouts.
"Those are games that are fun," deGrom said. "You know every pitch matters."
The other was nearly 50 years ago, on April 7, 1970. The Orioles' Dave McNally and the Indians' Sam McDowell both reached the mark, with McNally striking out 13 in a complete-game win over the Tribe and McDowell, who struck out 11 in his 6 1/3 innings.
Scherzer reached double-digit K's first on Thursday, notching his 10th strikeout when he punched out Mets top prospect Pete Alonso in the top of the sixth inning. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner deGrom was quick to follow, fanning NL Rookie of the Year Award runner-up Juan Soto for strikeout No. 10 in the bottom of the sixth.
"[Pitchers like deGrom] always try to be aggressive," Soto said. "Every time, they come to you. They don't give you a chance. So you've got to be ready for it."
deGrom came out after six shutout innings of five-hit baseball, which earned him his first win of the 2019 season. Going back to last season, he's now made 30 consecutive starts allowing three runs or fewer -- a new record for the longest such streak in Major League history.
Scherzer came out after 7 2/3 innings and his 12 K's, becoming just the 16th pitcher in MLB history to strike out 12 or more batters on Opening Day. He allowed just two hits, including a homer to Robinson Cano, and was charged with two earned runs, taking a tough loss against the pitcher he finished as runner-up to in last year's NL Cy Young Award race. Scherzer had no margin for error.
"You’re right to assess it that way," Scherzer said. "But I felt good out there. I felt like I was executing pitches."
He was. So was deGrom. The two Cy Young Award-winning starters dominating all afternoon made for a must-watch first game on Opening Day.
"Two really good pitchers going at it," the Nationals' Adam Eaton said. "As a player, it's tough. But as a fan, I bet they enjoyed those guys going pitch by pitch. It's pretty cool to watch."