From Anticipation to Misery at Citi Field

BY LESLIE MONTEIRO

(Photo credit: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The Mets hosted a postseason game at Citi Field on Friday night for the first time since 2016. There was an anticipated buzz flowing from Willets Point train station to the stadium hours before the game started as one would expect.

After a frustrating weekend at Atlanta last week that cost the Mets the division by being swept by the Atlanta Braves, the team was ready for a reset. They hoped playing in front of a fired-up home crowd would be the tonic to get them going and maybe start up a memorable postseason run that could last for weeks.

Eight minutes after the game started, Max Scherzer gave up a two-run home run. He gave up another home run in the second inning. He gave up a total of four home runs in the Mets’ 7-1 Game 1 loss to the San Diego Padres in the best-of-three wild-card series. Talk about a waste of $43.3 million this season. It was a forgettable postseason start as a Met that conjured memories of Tom Glavine pitching Game 162 in 2007 when the Marlins scored seven runs off him in the first inning that all but ended the Mets’ playoff chances in what was an 8-1 loss.

He wasn’t the only culprit in this loss. The offense did him no favors by struggling all night long. The Mets had runners on base early in the game, but they left them stranded. The only run came when Eduardo Escobar homered off Yu Darvish in the fifth inning, giving the Mets the lone run of the game.

Did we wait six years for this?

It was like nothing changed from the Wilpons. It was just bad baseball that we saw under them. Mets owner Steve Cohen received his first taste of postseason baseball, and it wasn’t pleasant. Think how the fans feel after being all excited.

Josh Bell hit a two-run home run off Scherzer to give the Padres a 2-0 lead in the first inning, and Trent Grisham homered off him in the second inning, extending the Padres’ lead to 3-0. In the fifth inning, Scherzer gave up a two-run home run to Jurickson Profar and a solo home run to Manny Machado, and he exited the game to a chorus of boos after the Padres took a 7-0 lead. Understandably, fans left after he left, and they only stayed just to boo him.

Here was Scherzer’s night: He allowed seven runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings. He also became the first Mets pitcher to ever give up four home runs in a postseason game.

Go ahead and talk about Scherzer’s oblique injury acting up all you want, but he was deemed okay to pitch. He didn’t get the job done once again. If he was hurting, he would have been upfront and told Mets manager Buck Showalter that he was compromising the team. If he wasn’t being truthful about his health, then shame on him for compromising the team. Besides, a starter is not going to be 100%, especially coming off the injured list this season.

No matter how you slice it, Scherzer deserves criticism. He came up small. That’s how we are going to remember him.

Here’s the worst part of all this: There’s a good chance that oblique becomes a nagging injury for the rest of his career. This should be no surprise this is happening to a 38-year-old starter. There have been so many miles on that arm in what was a long, successful career. At least, the Mets only have him two more seasons after this.

How can anyone trust Scherzer now, even if the Mets advance to the next round? He has given up seven home runs in his last three starts, including the postseason. There’s no way he can fix all that in one start again. This is why there’s a good chance the Mets are not going to win it all now.

Shoot, who knows now if the Mets may even play Sunday? If they lose Saturday night, this season is over. With the way they hit in Game 1, there’s no guarantee they will figure it out by then. Hitting is so contagious in a positive and negative way. When the team slumps, it can go on for a while.

The Mets left eight runners on base, and they finished 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. They went down meekly as the game went on. It brought fresh memories of what happened in Atlanta last weekend when the Mets couldn’t come up with that big hit.

The hitters don’t have time to reflect and analyze. They better figure it out next game. There was no margin for error to begin with, and there certainly isn’t now.

The Mets now hope Jacob deGrom doesn’t come up small as he did in his last start against Atlanta. He gave up three home runs in the Mets’ 5-2 loss to the Braves last Friday night. Who knows if he can recover from his blisters?

After so much hope, the Mets now enter a do-or-die game with many questions. Can the hitters get into a groove? Can deGrom bounce back from an awful start?

The Mets hope the answer provides them with a road to Sunday.

This writer can be reached on Twitter at: @LeslieMonteiro6

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