By Joe Rini
NEW YORK, Oct 7 – The San Diego Padres homered four times off Max Scherzer en route to a 7–1 victory over the New York Mets at Citi Field on Friday in Game One of their Wild Card Series. The victory places the Padres on the cusp of advancing to the NLDS in the best-of-three series. Conversely, the Mets stare at a sudden end to their 101-win season. Yu Darvish kept the Mets off balance for seven innings, allowing only a solo home run to Eduardo Escobar. Jacob deGrom starts on Saturday against Blake Snell as the Mets seek to avoid elimination,
The fact that the Padres homered four times off the future Hall of Famer stunned the crowd of 41,621. A somber Scherzer addressed the media after the game, and cited a lack of fastball command. Scherzer said, “I wasn’t able to command that fastball the way I usually can. That’s my bread and butter to be able to set up everything else. When my fastball’s flat and then running, that’s usually when I get hit a lot. Obviously tonight I got hit a lot.”
Padres Homered Four Times
The Padres struck quickly in the top of the first inning. Jurickson Profar blooped Scherzer’s first pitch into short left field for a single. Scherzer subsequently retired Juan Soto and Manny Machado but fell behind Josh Bell 3-0. After taking a strike, Bell launched a home run to deep left center and the Padres led 2–0. Darvish held the Mets scoreless in the first inning, and the Padres rewarded him in the second inning. After Scherzer retired the first two Padres, Trent Grisham deposited Scherzer’s 1-1 pitch over the right field wall for a 3–0 lead.
Darvish kept the Mets scoreless as productive situational hitting eluded the Mets in the opening innings. After a would-be three-run home run by Pete Alonso tailed foul, Darvish struck him out looking with runners on the corners and one out. Starling Marte singled leading off the second inning and stole two bases with one out, but Darvish struck out Eduardo Escobar.
Scherzer settled down to retire seven in a row, but he unraveled in the fifth inning. The Padres’ onslaught began with a leadoff single by Ha-Seong Kim and Austin Nola doubled to put runners on second and third with one out. With the infield in to cut off a run, Profar belted a three-run home run to right field. The stunned Citi Field crowd watched the Padres’ lead grow to 6–0. Two batters later, Scherzer allowed his fourth home run of the night to Machado, the Padres led 7–0, and Scherzer left the game after 4 2/3 innings to a chorus of boos. Escobar’s solo home run in the fifth inning spoiled Darvish’s scoreless streak but not much else. Robert Suarez and Luis Garcia pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth inning to complete the victory.
Buck Showalter pointed to the lack of offense and praised Darvish. He said, “There’s two shapes of breaking balls, really three with the cutter, the slider, and the curveball. When he wants to, he makes pitches with that even to left-handed hitters.” After the game, Game 2 starter deGrom also addressed the media, and he’s looking forward to Saturday’s game. “This will be my first time in seven years pitching in the postseason and first time at Citi Field, so I’m excited. Like I said, you go out there and execute to the best of your ability and leave it all out on the field.”