MLB

Mets Star, Dwight Gooden Arrested Again for DUI

Report from the New York Post

Addled former Mets ace Dwight Gooden was arrested Monday night for driving under the influence after heading the wrong way down a one-way street in Newark, NJ — just weeks after another DUI bust involving cocaine, sources told The Post.

The legendary ex-pitcher known as “Doc” — who has been in and out of rehab for years for drug and alcohol addiction — was a mess when he was picked up near Ferry Street in the Ironbound section around 11:10 p.m., sources said.

“He’d pee’d himself,” a source said, adding that Gooden told cops at the scene that he was diabetic, although it’s unclear if he is.

Gooden was taken to University Hospital in Newark.

The incident was only the latest sad turn for the 1985 National League Cy Young Award winner, who led the Mets to their most recent World Series championship in 1986.

While battling his addictions, Gooden, 54, has had numerous brushes with the law along the way, including in 2010, when he crashed his car in Franklin Lakes, NJ, while under the influence — and driving his then-5-year-old son, Dylan, to school.

Gooden’s most recent previous bout with law enforcement occurred June 7, when he was nabbed by Holmdel, NJ, cops for allegedly driving erratically. Officers later found two small ziplock baggies in his car containing suspected cocaine.

The former pitching great’s trials with substance abuse thwarted his Hall of Fame dreams, which had been fueled by such stellar moments on the field as his no-hitter in 2000 while with the Yankees.

According to the website Celebrity Net Worth, Gooden has $200,000 to his name.

Jim Bouton, Star Pitcher of Yankees in Early 1960s, Dies at 80

by Scott Mandel

Saddened to learn of the passing of one of my favorites, Jim “Bulldog” Bouton, an excellent right-handed pitcher for the Yankees in the 60s. Bulldog, who came over the top on all of his pitches, always lost his cap on the follow-through after firing fastballs. He won 21 games in ’63 and 18 more the next season. 

Jim pitched a memorable game three in the 1963 World Series for the Yanks in ’63 in a duel against Don Drysdale of the Dodgers. Drysdale pitched a three-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory, Bouton giving up just four hits for the Yankees. The only run scored in the first inning on a walk, wild pitch and single by Tommy Davis that bounced off the pitching mound.

Bouton won both his starts in the 1964 World Series. He beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 with a complete-game six-hitter on Oct. 10 on a walk-off home run by Mickey Mantle, then won again on Oct. 14 at Busch Stadium, 8-3, backed by another Mantle homer and a Joe Pepitone grand slam.

Jim was a big-game pitcher but he will always be more famous for writing the best baseball book ever, Ball Four, which changed the sport and how it was covered, off the field, when he secretly chronicled his 1969 season with the Seattle Pilots. The notion of what goes on in the clubhouse shall remain in the clubhouse was blown to bits by Bouton’s hilarious recollections of his Yankee years. Mickey Mantle, in particular, didn’t forgive Bulldog for many years for sharing Mickey’s late night escapades with the world. The Yankees never invited him back for Old-Timer’s Days. They should have. 

Jim Bouton

Rest in peace, Bulldog. Jim was 80 years old. Thanks for making a kid’s earliest years as a baseball fan exciting.

Presence and Karma of Miracle Mets of 1969, Honored at Citi Field Couldn’t Save Current Mets Today

by Scott Mandel

Before today’s game, during a ceremony at Citi Field honoring the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Miracle Mets world championship, one of the surviving members of that team and the only living original Met from that first season in 1962, Ed Kranepool, got up to the podium to say a few words.

Among his thoughts, Kranepool turned to the Mets dugout to address the current team.

“You’re only half way through the season. Whatever your struggles have been to this point, you can still pull off a miracle and win this thing.”

Once again, the Mets, particularly its bullpen, didn’t take Kranepool’s words to heart, as they blew another late-game lead to the first place Atlanta Braves, 5-4, dropping them 13 full games behind the Braves in the East Division.

Did anyone say, “Let’s back up the truck and become sellers?”

After the Mets rallied from a three-run deficit — and took the lead thanks to a hit by Robinson Cano — their disastrous bullpen cost them again as it has been costing them this entire season.

Seth Lugo was the main culprit. The right-hander gave up back-to-back homers with one-out in the eighth to extend their season-high losing streak to seven games, as calls for the firing of manager Mickey Callaway could be heard from the crowd of 40,809 at Citi Field — the largest since Opening Day.

The Mets had a chance to tie the game again in the bottom of the ninth but fell short.

Pete Alonso and J.D. Davis reached to start the inning before Michael Conforto was called out on strikes. Todd Frazier followed with a slow grounder to third, as both runners moved up for Dom Smith, who struck out to end it.

But they had to rely on their much-maligned pen, which was forced into action after the game was delayed 70 minutes following the second inning because of heavy rain, and Steven Matz’s night was over.

Ed Kranepool speaking at Citi Field, where he and other members of the 1969 Mets were honored before Saturday’s game.
Kranepool speaking while Jerry Grote, Jerry Koosman, Cleon Jones, Ron Swoboda, Duffy Dyler, Jim McAndrew, and Bud Harrelson look on

It worked out at first, as Chris Mazza — in his MLB debut — pitched four solid innings in relief and Lugo tossed a scoreless seventh before Nick Markakis and Austin Riley took him deep to swing the game.

“He was mowing them down and then, three pitches later, we’re down in the game and he’s given up two homers,’’ Callaway said of Lugo. “He looked like his normal self tonight. It’s kind of unexplainable.’’

Unexplainable has become the watch word of this Mets season, which, despite its bright spots in players like Pete Alonso, who hit his 28th home run today, Dom Smith, who also hit a 435 foot bomb to left center field and is batting .330, and Jeff McNeil, who is in the race for the National League batting title, it has been unexplainable how the supposed strength of this team, it’s pitching staff, has simply collapsed to the point where Mets G.M.. Brodie Van Wagenen fired the respected pitching coach, Dave Eiland, replacing him with the 82-year old Phil Regan, who pitched with Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers 54 years ago.

Unexplainable.

When Van Wagenen fires Callaway, as seems inevitable at season’s end if not sooner, that too, will be unexplainable.

Yankees May Look to Lengthen Pitching Staff with Shorter Pitchers, Marcus Stroman and Minor League Phenom, Garcia

by Scott Mandel

The New York Yankees, in need of starting pitchers, will try to trade for 5’7″ righthander, Marcus Stroman, a local boy from Long Island who has been languishing in Toronto with the Blue Jays, before the July 31 trading deadline. They have another short (okay, height-challenged, for you politically correct types) pitching phenomenon in the minors, named Delvi Garcia, a 20-year old 5’8″, 160 pounder, who is averaging 16 strikeouts per nine innings and appears to be a “can’t miss” prospect with four above average pitches in his arsenal, including a 95-97 mph fastball.

Wouldn’t it be fun to see little guys out there on the mound, mixed in with Yankee pitchers like 6’7″ C.C. Sabathia, 6’5″ James Paxon, 6’5″ JA Happ, and 6’5″ Aroldis Chapman, mowing down major league hitters during the stretch run of a pennant race?

Whitey Ford, only the greatest pitcher in Yankee history, was about 5’8″, and he’s in the Hall of Fame with 236 wins to his credit.

Clearly it’s not the size of one’s height, it’s the size of one’s heart (just made that up). And, it’s also the spin rate on the curve and slider, mixed in with control and command of a 95mph heater. But more on that, later.

Delvi Garcia is mowing down Double A hitters and could be in the Bronx sooner than expected

The Yankees have been bitten by the injury bug throughout their roster this season with the pitching staff getting hit particularly hard. Injuries to Luis Severino, their ace, along with Domingo German and Jordan Montgomery (recovering from Tommy John surgery last June) have left them with an over-dependence on pitchers like the 39-year old Sabathia and 36-year old Happ while getting inconsistent performances from James Paxson and German (before his injury).

Garcia, at Double A Trenton, is dominating Eastern League batters as he dominated in Single A ball. He is expected to be moved up, once again, to Triple A, the highest level of minor league baseball, within a few weeks. If his dominance continues there, he could be in line to get called up in September, when major league rosters expand.

“For a lack of a better word, he’s been dominant,” Trenton Thunder manager Pat Osborn said. “He has a really good four-pitch mix and all four right now are probably above the Major League average. He’s a heck of a competitor and has the composure of a guy that’s been pitching for a number of years. He’s the full package in terms of what you want in a young starting pitcher.”

Montgomery has had a recent setback in his rehabilitation, trying to come back from rotator cuff surgery in his elbow last June. This time, he is experiencing pain in his throwing shoulder. An MRI this week showed inflammation in the joint, always a scary proposition for pitchers. He won’t be back anytime soon.

German is a question mark, particularly since he didn’t pitch that well prior to his injury. He tends to lose command of his pitches, probably due to faulty mechanics with his delivery. He was able to maintain fastball velocity in the 95 mph range, but wasn’t throwing it for strikes, consistently. He was hit hard over his last several outings.

Severino, who won 19 games last season, seems to be progressing well in his rehab. If everything continues on a good path, it looks like he’ll be headed down to the minors in about two weeks to stretch out his arm so he can give the Yankees solid seven-inning outings when he returns to the big club. That should require at least four starts down on the farm, with the last two outings to occur with the Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees. Depending on how his arm, as well as his other physical ailments respond will determine when the Yankees bring him up to the big club in the Bronx. But, it will certainly be after the All-Star break.

The lesson to be learned is as old as the game, itself. Teams can never have too much pitching.

Seaver, Mets All-Time Great, Suffering from Dementia

Fifty year anniversary of the Miracle Mets. A few teammates, Buddy Harrelson, Jerry Koosman, Art Shamsky, and Ron Swoboda visited the great Tom Seaver at his home in the Napa Valley, just prior to Seaver’s announcement he had been diagnosed with dementia. That’s Tom Terrific, 74, on the right.

Amazing how time flies. Truly astounding.

But, time doesn’t stand still for anyone, which of course, is one of the oldest cliches known to man. These old Mets, now in their mid to upper 70s, won a World Series championship in 1969 with a franchise forever known as the “lovable losers,” until Tom Seaver joined the team in 1967.

Seaver, who retired in 1989 with 311 victories, is a Hall of Famer, one of the icons in the history of the sport. On the mound, and in the clubhouse, he was like John Wayne, in those John Wayne movies. Tough, didn’t take any guff from anyone, meant business, and accomplished his objectives.

So, it was a shock to Art Shamsky when he coordinated a trip to Seaver’s Napa Valley home to visit the ailing pitcher and old teammate to find the former ace struggling to remember events and names from their championship series.

Jerry Koosman brought a copy of the New York Times from the Mets' championship. (Courtesy Erik Sherman)
Jerry Koosman holds up a copy of NY Times from 1969, after Mets won World Series
Tom Seaver discussing viticulture with Ron Swoboda. (Courtesy Erik Sherman)
Swoboda and Seaver on Seaver’s 116 acre vineyard

Mets Win Despite Another Bullpen Implosion as Jeff McNeil Pegs Out Cardinals to End Game

by Scott Mandel

You have to give New York Mets manager Mickey Callaway, a ton of credit. He understands his public role as chief cheerleader for his players, no matter how much his bullpen may blow late game leads or his fielders continue their alarming level of defensive miscues.

The Mets won last night’s game over the Cardinals, 8-7. That’s the good news. The real news? They were leading in the seventh inning, 8-3, with Noah Syndergaard on the mound. He wasn’t particularly sharp all night but he had enough moxie and stuff to get outs when he had to.

As has been Callaway’s wont over the past month or so, with a faltering bullpen and a starting five that no longer needs to be babied with limited pitch counts, he sent Syndergaard out to pitch the seventh inning, with the starter having thrown 102 pitches through six.

Syndergaard (5-4) reached for his right hamstring after throwing one pitch. Callaway and an athletic trainer came out to check on the right-hander, who walked off the field with a bit of a limp.

“It was on that one pitch,” Callaway said, adding Syndergaard will be re-evaluated Sunday morning. “That deep in the game, if he feels anything, you get him out with a five-run lead.”

But, these are the Mets, who either grossly overrated its bullpen coming into this season or, those pitchers out there have all gone off the rails at the same time. The bullpen, coming into Saturday, held a 6.69 ERA in the last 30 days, 8.33 in the past two weeks. You can’t get much worse than that, especially when that unit has blown 16 saves this season, by far, the worst in the game.

When Syndergaard walked off the mound with a five-run lead, one sensed five runs wasn’t nearly enough of a lead to secure a win for the Mets against the scrappy, base-stealing Cardinals, who stole six bases against Mets pitching last night.

Enter Robert Gsellman, one of the Jekyll and Hydes of the Mets bullpen. Gsellman throws 95-97 but unfortunately doesn’t always know where the pitch is going. Often times, it ends up straight over the plate where major league hitters can tattoo it. Predictably, like clockwork, St. Louis scored three times with Gsellman being Gsellman, before the inning ended on a line-drive double play.

With a beleaguered bullpen having so much trouble closing games for the New York Mets lately, it was left to second baseman Jeff McNeil to take it upon himself to save this one, and save Edwin Diaz’ bacon at the same time.

Seth Lugo came on in the eighth inning, loading the bases but somehow, he struck out three in the inning, finally fanning Matt Carpenter with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Then, it was Diaz time. The Mets biggest acquisition of the off-season, Diaz appears to be fragile, an attribute for a closer that doesn’t lead to happy endings. The 24-year old gave up a two-out RBI single to Yadier Molina in the ninth, and Kolten Wong lofted a pop fly toward the right field line.

McNeil sprinted a long way in pursuit and converged with outfielder Michael Conforto, yet neither could make the catch. Conforto tumbled to the turf, but McNeil stayed on his feet and quickly grabbed the ball as it trickled away. He zipped a one-hop throw right to catcher Wilson Ramos that easily nailed Jack Flaherty, the Cardinals pitcher who was pinch-running for the slow-footed Molina.

“Mike goes in there sliding, I go in there leaping. I think once the ball hit the ground, I knew they were going to send him,” McNeil said. “Pick it up and I kind of got lucky; I was behind the ball, so I got some oomph on the throw.”

Flaherty looked back at the ball while running and stumbled coming around third.

“You see Flaherty chugging the bases and I thought he was going to score,” Cards’ starter Michael Wacha said. “The guy made a heck of a throw from right field — right on the money. So I mean, you’ve just got to tip your cap at some point and go get `em tomorrow. But it was a crazy ending, that’s for sure.”

A fired-up McNeil pumped his right arm and the Mets celebrated after a narrow escape. Diaz got his 15th save in 18 attempts.

“That was just a whirlwind of emotions,” rookie slugger Pete Alonso said.

Alonso smashed a mammoth three-run homer off the facing of the third deck in a five-run first inning against Michael Wacha (4-3). J.D. Davis homered and had four hits, finishing a triple short of the cycle. And this time, New York’s relievers finally held on — barely — after blowing late leads in the first two games of the series.

“Third time’s a charm and there was never a doubt,” Callaway said, chuckling. “A win’s a win and it was a great play by Jeff. Heads-up play to get it in and get it home. Great throw.”

“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” Davis said.

Added Callaway: “It’s not easy for us right now. But tonight is a step in the right direction, no matter how it happened. We held the lead and hopefully we can build off of that.”

Mickey can’t say this, as chief of cheerleading but, until the Mets get the collective fragile psyches of its bullpen into a healthier place, there won’t be enough runs in a game to build off of.

Syndergaard Throws Gem, Sending Mets to 6-1 win over Rockies

Setting the tone – Mets hierarchy is deciding to let “Big Four” starters lead the way this season by going “old school” with higher pitch counts and more innings per outing for the foreseeable future.

By Scott Mandel

Noah Syndergaard became a dominant pitcher again at Citi Field today, as he allowed just one hit to the potent Colorado Rockies lineup as the Mets won the rubber game of this weekend series, 6-1.

Todd Frazier, the well-traveled, veteran third baseman, led the Mets, driving in four runs with a home run and a double.

But, make no mistake about it. If this Mets team has any designs on competing for a championship, it’s going to come down to what has historically been the strength and the legacy of this franchise, namely, its starting pitching.

Some organizations have always been known by how many power-hitting bashers they produce, seemingly from year to year. Other organizations are better known for developing great pitching or, speedy, athletic, heady players.

Any success the Mets, in their 57-year history, have enjoyed, has always been predicated on their pitching staff, particularly its young, talented, fireballing starting pitchers.

Boppers? No, it’s never been the Mets “thing.” But, arms? Those have been a thing of beauty in the Amazin’s legacy.

This is the franchise of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, Jon Matlack, Dwight Gooden, and for a brief, shining moment, Matt Harvey. Those were the guys this franchise historically depended on to win championships, or get them into contention to grab the brass ring.

The current Mets possess four talented starters in Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz, along with surprising fifth starter, Jason Vargas, who pitched a complete game shutout on Wednesday. The first four all throw the ball very hard, very consistently. Each of them can sprinkle in curve balls or changeups, but, by and large, these guys are bringing 95 mph plus heat to every start, forcing opposing hitters to cheat a little with their swings to catch up to the velo.

When these guys are “on,” they are dominant major league pitchers. It’s Callaway’s job to put them in dominant mode, and he believes it starts now with confidence-building. They have been told their success will dictate how this Mets season goes. That they, all in their primes right now, are the Core Four of the Mets.

But, up to this point, these pitchers have been mostly babied by this current Mets regime, for fear of developing the types of arm injuries that could derail a career, as what happened to Matt Harvey.

But, if you listen to Mets manager Mickey Callaway now, those days are over. Partially because of a bullpen that has been wildly inconsistent and unreliable, especially when holding leads in the late innings, and

New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier hits
Hot-hitting Frazier drove in four runs vs. Rockies

partially, because somebody in the Mets hierarchy seems to have awakened recently and asked itself the question, “where and who is the strength of this team and how can we win a championship, today?”

The answer seems to have come to Callaway and his pitching coach, Dave Eiland, over the last four games, after the bullpen lost leads on the Mets recent road trip to the West coast.

Today, Syndergaard (4-4) struck out seven and walked two to pick up his first win in five starts, dating back to May 14. He was sharp from the get-go, working his 97-99 mph velocity to both sides of the plate. The Rockies didn’t look comfortable, as Syndergaard allowed just one hit in his tidy, 98-pitch outing, a Nolan Arenado single to right, just past the reach of Mets second baseman, Adeiny Hechavarria.

“He was on,” said Rockies outfielder, David Dahl. “His fastball is 98, 99 with movement. We were late on that and then we try to kind of cheat to it or get to it and he throws the changeup or the curveball,” Dahl said. “He had everything working.”

New York has homered in 16 straight home games, setting a club record.

All very nice when the Mets’ offense holds up its end of the bargain but make no mistake, this up and down Mets season will evolve into a memorable one if the Big Four succeeds at old school baseball and does what is now expected of them.

Callaway Not Tracking as Long-Term Mets Manager as Another Loss is Blamed on His Decision

If New York Mets manager, Mickey Callaway is fired before this season comes to an end, many of us might point to tonight’s loss at Citi Field to the San Francisco Giants, as the beginning of the end of his tenure at the helm.

Returning home from a 2-5 west coast road trip which made clear the biggest weakness of this team is found in its collapsing bullpen, Callaway spoke before tonight’s game about the importance of re-enforcing the starting pitching as the strength and core of this roster, and the one segment of this team that needs to be counted if the Mets are to have a successful, playoff-bound season.

Callaway said tonight it was going to fall on the shoulders of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz to lead this team to the promised land, much like past Mets pitching staffs had done, despite spotty lineups and lots of weaknesses throughout the rosters, such as in 1973 when names like Seaver, Koosman, Gentry, and Matlack led the Mets to the World Series despite a modicum of mediocrity throughout that lineup.

The problem is, Callaway isn’t managing as if the strength of this team is in its four starters, as he claimed earlier. He has played it cautious over the past few games with his ace, deGrom and tonight, with Syndergaard, who was removed by Callaway in the seventh inning with a 3-2 lead, having retired 10 of the past 12 hitters, just one out away from closing out that seventh.

Instead of focusing on the supposed core of this team, one of whom is Noah Syndergaard, Callaway managed as if he didn’t trust Syndergaard to retire that third out, the Giants’ righthanded hitting Evan Longoria, who was carrying around a .223 batting average.

Callaway brought in Seth Lugo, recently off the injured list, to pitch to the diminished Longoria as Syndergaard made no effort on the field to hide his anger at Callaway’s call to the bullpen.

With a man on first, Lugo proceeded to give up the lead, and with it, the Mets crumbled late in a game, once again, and suffered a crushing 9-3 loss after taking a lead into the the late innings.

A few hours later, Noah Syndergaard was on an excellent roll and the Mets manager was removing him from the game, the latest evidence that even nearly 1 ¹/₂ years into the job, Callaway still has trouble making decisions under stress. You know who agrees with that assessment?

Image result for Mickey Callaway decision loses game for Mets
Callaway also removed deGrom too early from a game on the West Coast trip, leading to bullpen collapse

Mickey Callaway.

Because after what turned into a 9-3, 10-inning loss, Callaway first gathered his players to express in Syndergaard’s word “remorse” about the decision while taking responsibility for the loss and then publicly conceding, “I’d like to have that [decision] back.”

That might be true about the Wilpons and Brodie Van Wagenen when it comes to their choice to stick with Callaway as manager. Three days after removing Jacob deGrom over the ace’s objections and going to a sketchy bullpen that would end up blowing the game, Callaway did the same Tuesday with Syndergaard with the same results. This is the Robinson-Cano-not-running-out-balls-twice of managing. Once, you are not crazy about it, but the second time reaches inexcusable.

Mets’ Catching Duo Turns Into Johnny Bench to Defeat Tigers in Extra Innings

by Scott Mandel

So this is what the Big Red Machine, the legendary Cincinnati Reds of the 1970s, must have experienced with some frequency. The guy behind the plate hitting clutch home runs for a dozen or so years to win games for those Reds of Joe Morgan, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, George Foster, and, of course, the legendary Johnny Bench, behind the plate.

Tonight, the guys the Mets employ to catch pitches from their pitchers, also provided the Mets with all the offense they needed to defeat the Detroit Tigers, 6-5, in 11 innings in front of a near-sellout crowd at Citi Field.

Tomas Nido, the defensive-minded backup catcher and owner of a .172 batting average to go along with one home run so far, was the latest to send the injury-riddled Mets to a victory in their final at-bat, drilling a solo homer to right-center field in a 5-4, 13-inning victory over the Tigers at Citi Field.

“Amazing. First walk-off ever — hit or home run. So that was an unbelievable feeling,” said Nido, who was doused not only with Gatorade but also had a large bag of popcorn and bucket full of bubble gum dumped on him as well. “I had one in high school, but this topped it.”

Nido’s third career homer was by far the biggest hit of his short Mets career. Leading off the 13th, he drilled a 2-0 Buck Farmer fastball over the wall, clinching the Mets’ fifth win in six games. It was also the team’s fourth win in their final at-bat in their past five games, and in each of those victories the game-deciding hit was provided by an unlikely source.

Ramos slammed two home runs for Mets, today

“The crazy thing: That was probably the last thing I was thinking, hitting a home run there,” Nido said.

Before Nido’s heroics, the Mets’ starting catcher, Wilson Ramos, showed why the Mets gave up on Travis d’Arnaud early into this season. Ramos, who had been slumping of late, slammed two home runs, one to left center field and the other to the opposite field in right, driving in all the Mets four runs. That production alone was enough for the Mets (25-26) to hold a 4-3 lead going into the eighth.

Until Nido snapped the tie with his big blast, giving Mets catchers today a combined 4 for 6, three homers, five RBI’s, And. to add to this positively Bench-ian game from the Mets catching brigade, Ramos picked off Gordon Beckham at first base with a bullet throw the old Reds catcher would have been proud of.

Going into today’s afternoon contest against the rebuilding, Triple-A talent-level Tigers, Mets manager Mickey Callaway knew his bullpen would be short because of all the arms he had to use last night in a 9-8 loss to these same lowly Tigers.

Callaway was hoping to get five innings from today’s starter Jason Vargas, always a shaky proposition most people wouldn’t bet the farm on. But, once again, Vargas, who doesn’t top 86 mph with his fastball, was able to use his crafty, veteran control to keep the young Tigers off-balance two times through their lineup. Vargas left with a 2-1 lead, having completed five full innings.

Scherzer Goes Six Shutout Innings Before Nats Bullpen Implodes in 6-1 Loss to Mets

It’s not every day you get to witness a matchup of arguably, the two best pitchers in baseball but, yesterday, at Citi Field, the Mets Jacob deGrom, the Cy Young Award winner last season, faced the Nationals’ Max Scherzer, the Cy Young winner the season before that.

Scherzer was trying to help Washington avoid a third straight loss to the New York Mets and a fourth straight loss overall, but he was matched up against right-hander Jacob deGrom, who beat him out for the 2018 NL Cy Young award.

Scherzer’s manager, Davey Martinez, told reporters before the third game of four against the Mets in Citi Field that he thought his ace would be up for the challenge.

“He’s a fierce competitor and he loves to win,” Martinez said. “There’s no other thing for him but winning, so he’s going to out there today and face an opponent that’s pretty good too, but knowing Max he’s going to gives us his best effort and go out there and try to get that win.”

Scherzer’s pitch count was high, but he tossed four scoreless on 73 pitches after the Nats jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, and he picked up three Ks in a 25-pitch fifth that left him with nine strikeouts and 98 pitches overall after five scoreless.

He came back out for the sixth and retired the Mets in order in an 11-pitch frame that ended his outing.

Joe Ross and Matt Grace combined to get the Nationals through the seventh with their 1-0 lead intact, but two runners reached against Kyle Barraclough in the eighth and three runs scored on a bases-loaded double off Sean Doolittle, who gave up a three-run home run as well in what ended up a 6-1 loss.

“Scherzer was amazing,” Martinez told reporters after the loss. “Exceeded the pitch count we thought he was going to have and gave us a chance to win and we just couldn’t close the deal.”

It was another loss for the Nationals, who’ve now dropped four straight overall, three in Citi Field, and 14 of 21 in May.

“No one likes to lose,” Scherzer said after another solid outing in which a potential win was lost in the bullpen.

“Everyone hates losing. Everyone in here hates losing, so you don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself, you play every single day, you have to come out tomorrow and just compete and there’s nothing else you can do.”

Scherzer was asked what the Nationals have to do to keep things from spiraling further out of control after they fell to eleven games under .500 with the loss to the Mets.

“When you face adversity, this is when you reveal yourself,” Scherzer said.

“Whether you have the mental fortitude to come back and know that you can block out all the negativity that’s probably going to surround us right now. You’ve got to come forward to the game with that positive attitude of knowing what you can control, knowing that you have the right mindset that you’re going to go out there and compete and compete at 100%. You have to think of all the little things you can do, and for me that’s really what I’ve been focused on in kind of the past handful of turns in the rotation, of all the little things that I can do to make sure that I’m executing pitches and make sure that I’m throwing the ball the way I want to. It just takes an individual approach when you have adversity.”