Scherzer, Canha on broom duty as Mets sweep Phils

June 1st, 2023

NEW YORK -- It’s safe to say that right-hander is back to being the ace of the staff. He was dealing on Thursday afternoon at Citi Field, and it helped the Mets defeat the Phillies, 4-2, and sweep the three-game series. It was the second three-game sweep at home this season for New York.

“Regardless of who it is or whether they are in your division or not, you don’t get extra points,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s like a home run; you don’t get a run and a half for hitting it real far. Every game counts. You are who you are. You seek your level.”

If one goes by the first inning, it appeared Scherzer was in for a long day, as Philadelphia took a quick 2-0 lead. After allowing a single to Trea Turner and walking Bryce Harper with one out, the Phillies attempted a double steal, but catcher threw the ball into left field, allowing Turner to score and Harper to advance to third base. Harper later scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Castellanos.

After the inning ended, Scherzer said to himself, “Just throw zeros.” Then he proved himself a man of his word, holding the Phillies scoreless through the next six innings and picking up nine strikeouts on the day. Scherzer picked up 15 swings and misses on his fastball during the game.

It marked the second outing in a row that Scherzer went seven innings and allowed just one earned run, and he lowered his ERA to 3.21. In his past four starts, Scherzer has allowed three earned runs in 25 innings.

“He has just been Max,” Showalter said. “I marvel at him, at the level he does at this stage of his career. As the pure stuff starts a little down, the knowledge of pitching comes up. You saw it a lot with guys like [Greg] Maddux and [Tom] Glavine. Those guys used to throw 94, 95. Then they were throwing 89-91 or 92 with great command.

“Max has a very talented hand. He can maneuver the ball, make pitches change their shape a little bit in the slider, cutter and changeup. When you see that many left-handed hitters in [the lineup], you know he is going to have to do something with the baseball other than just locate a fastball."

Scherzer believes his success of late has been aided by a great relationship with Alvarez, who has developed an understanding of how Scherzer thinks and throws on the mound. Together, Alvarez and Scherzer were able to come up with the right sequence of pitches throughout the game.

What makes Alvarez so good behind the plate? Scherzer said he has the instincts to handle the position.

“You can never teach instincts. You either have it or you don’t. He kind of has that it-factor to him,” Scherzer said. “He has a good head on his shoulders for being a young kid, and he wants to learn. We have a great clubhouse of veterans to learn from. He is doing a great job of it.

“As good as he is doing right now, for him, he needs to continue to learn and continue to get experience. He will continue to get better. There are still little things that he can get better at, and he is showing spurts of what he can do.”

For the second game in a row, it was who had a hand in the Mets’ victory. With the Mets trailing 2-1 in the fourth inning, Canha swung at a 3-1 pitch from right-hander Taijuan Walker and clubbed the ball over the left-center-field fence to give New York a one-run lead.

Facing the Phillies, Canha just can’t seem to stop hitting: in his past three games against them, he’s hit four home runs and driven in 11. The 11 RBIs are tied with Mike Piazza (2002) and Michael Conforto (2018) for the most RBIs in a three-game span by a Met against Philadelphia.

“I’m just trying to have good at-bats, really not trying to do too much,” Canha said. “We had a runner on second and I was trying to hit a single up the middle. Sometimes, when you make the moment smaller than it is, things happen. I was trying to get a good pitch to hit there and drive in a run.”

Maybe Scherzer said it best. The Mets need more than just to hit homers and drive in runs.

“You need a total team effort offensively to beat teams,” Scherzer said. “It can’t be just Pete hitting in the middle of the lineup hitting homers. It's got to be everybody. … Mark is that guy right now. He has been going out there giving us huge at-bats. Today, with that two-run homer, that really gave us some breathing room to get the lead and allowed me to go out there and do my job.”

The Mets added to their lead in the sixth inning against left-hander Matt Strahm when scored on a sacrifice fly by , who came off the bench as a pinch-hitter for . Vientos had gotten a heads-up an inning earlier that he could face a left-hander.

“I was prepared for it. I got ready between innings, I’ll go in the cage to take some swings," he said. "So it really wasn’t that tough. I was prepared for it.”