In Max Scherzer’s first game back in nearly two months, the All-Star put on a show, striking out 11 and allowing just two hits in six innings of scoreless baseball on Tuesday night in Cincinnati.
The atmosphere was electric for Scherzer’s return from the injured list after he suffered an oblique strain in mid-May. Mets fans took over the Reds’ Great American Ball Park, with “Let’s go Mets” chants ringing through the stadium for most of the game.
Following Scherzer’s 1-2-3 first inning, and most thereafter, a sea of fans in blue and orange gave him a rightful standing ovation as a nod to his performance and tenacity.
If only the Mets could provide some run support, the night would have been perfect. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Mets left eight players stranded, unable to back up the dazzling pitching by Scherzer. Very deGrom-esque if you ask me.
Designated hitter J.D. Davis had a chance to give the Mets an early lead after a pair of singles by Mark Canha and Jeff McNeil in the second inning. With one out and Canha and McNeil advancing to second and third after a wild pitch by Nick Lodolo, Davis struck out swinging after working back from down 1-2 to a full count. James McCann followed with a ground out to Lodolo.
Davis had another chance to do damage in the fourth after Eduardo Escobar was hit by a pitch and McNeil was walked. Once again, he was unable to get it done after fouling out to first.
In the seventh inning, Francisco Lindor stepped up to the plate with Brandon Nimmo on second and Starling Marte on first. On the second pitch he saw, he fouled out to the catcher, stranding two more.
Scherzer was pulled after 79 pitches and lowered his ERA at Great American Ball Park to 0.27, per MLB dot com’s Anthony DiComo.
Mets pitcher Joely Rodríguez made light work for himself in the seventh, striking out two and forcing a ground out for a 1-2-3 inning.
The following inning, Tommy Hunter got in trouble after he allowed a leadoff single to Nick Senzel and walked Matt Reynolds. Michael Papierski sacrificed to third to advance the runners. With one out and two players on, Hunter got Jonathan India to pop out to first and Brandon Drury to fly out to right field.
Seth Lugo pitched the ninth for the second time in two days. He forced a full count to Tommy Pham but proceeded to allow a double that was roped to deep right field. Tyler Naquin was intentionally walked in the hopes of getting a double-play ball. But Lugo could not hit his spots and walked Donovan Solano to load the bases for Mike Moustakas.
Moose hit a sacrifice fly to center to bring home Pham and win the game for the Reds.
It was the fifth time of the season Lugo appeared on consecutive days. In those games, he has allowed five runs, per Tim Britton of The Athletic. Buck Showalter told media following the loss that Adam Ottavino was unavailable to pitch as the team wanted to give him extra rest after Sunday’s performance.
The loss highlighted the Mets’ need for a strong designated hitter and another bullpen arm.
The Mets (50-31) are now just 2.5 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. New York looks to take the rubber match against Cincinnati (28-52) on Wednesday night as David Peterson (3.24 ERA) takes the mound against Graham Ashcraft (4.53 ERA).