Max Scherzer left tonight’s game in Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park after just one long-ish 27-pitch first inning, and a parade of Nationals’ relief pitchers followed in what ended up a 3-1 loss to the New York Mets.
Rick Porcello put together his strongest start in three outings with his new club, holding the Nationals to a run on five hits in an efficient seven innings of work which he completed on a total of just 81 pitches.
The two teams split the two-game set in Nationals Park, and the Nationals finished the night 4-5 on the season...
Scherzer vs NYM: Max Scherzer gave up six hits and four earned runs over 5 1⁄3 innings in his 2020 debut, then tossed 7 1⁄3 scoreless the second time out, striking out 21 batters in those 12 2⁄3 IP, while walking seven.
He walked the leadoff batter in the first last time out against the Toronto Blue Jays, but erased the runner on a double play.
After putting the first batter he faced (Brandon Nimmo) on again tonight with another free pass, Scherzer gave up a single to right field that put runners on the corners, and one out later, a sac fly to left that put the Mets up early in the second of two for NY in D.C., 1-0.
Scherzer threw 27 pitches in the first, laboring a bit on the mound, and he didn’t come out for the top of the second, with Erick Fedde replacing the right-hander on the mound.
No explanation for Scherzer’s exit was offered during the game...
Max Scherzer’s Line: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 27 P, 14 S, 1/1 GO/FO.
Porcello vs the Nats: Rick Porcello finished the 2019 campaign in Boston with a 5.52 ERA and a 4.76 FIP in 32 starts and 174 1⁄3 IP in his fifth season in the Red Sox’ rotation, and he signed a 1-year/$10M free agent deal with the Mets after playing out the final year of a 4-year/$82.5M extension he signed with the Sox in 2015.
Asked to describe himself going into his first year with the Mets, Porcello told NY Post writer Steve Serby, “... veteran with a lot of potential, and a chip on his shoulder with something to prove this year.”
Porcello didn’t get off to a great start, giving up 12 hits, six walks, and 11 runs (9 ER) in just six innings pitched in his first two outings, and he gave up two doubles and a run early in tonight’s matchup in D.C., with Adam Eaton and Juan Soto doubling one out apart in the bottom of the first inning, with Soto’s RBI hit tying things up at 1-1 after the Mets went up early.
After an eight-pitch fourth, Porcello needed just seven pitches in a 1-2-3 fifth which left him at 56 total with just one run allowed.
After a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth, he’d retired seven in a row, and another 1-2-3 frame gave him ten straight outs, with just one run allowed in seven innings.
Rick Porcello’s Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 81 P, 56 S, 10/5 GO/FO.
THAMES RETURNS: Eric Thames dealt with some back stiffness over the Nationals’ four-day break, but manager Davey Martinez said before today’s game that the veteran, 33-year-old first baseman would be in the lineup for the finale of the two-game set with the Mets.
“He’s going to play first base. He feels good. Like I said, he went through back stiffness,” the manager explained.
“He worked out yesterday, he pushed himself a little bit. He said he felt good, and he’s ready to go today, so he’ll play first base today.”
Thames made two aggressive plays on defense early, stabbing a liner that might have been a foul ball by first base, then jumping on another hard-hit ball and throwing to second base to cut down the lead runner. Back looked fine. He also singled the first time up against Mets’ right-hander Rick Porcello.
SOTO’S BACK: “No. 22, Juan Soto, batting fourth, playing left field,” Davey Martinez said in advance of Juan Soto’s 2020 debut, which followed two stints in quarantine after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 upon returning to the U.S. for the start of Spring Training 2.0, then testing positive himself before Opening Day.
So, of course, after all that time off, and a lot of work to get ready, Soto went 2 for 2 to start the season, and made a diving play in left field, though he did slide past third base and get tagged out after the second hit.
Soto ended the night 2 for 4 in his 2020 debut.
BULLPEN ACTION: Erick Fedde took over on the mound for Max Scherzer in the second, and got a 1-6-3 inning-ending DP after issuing a one-out walk to Wilson Ramos.
Fedde walked two batters but stranded both in a 19-pitch third inning (in his second inning of work), then gave up back-to-back singles to start the top of the fourth inning with both J.D. Davis and Andrés Giménez connecting for base hits. One out later, Luis Guillorme hit the third single of the inning, and drove Davis in from second for the Mets’ second run of the game, 2-1.
Sam Freeman came on for the Nationals in the top of the fifth, replacing Fedde on the hill, and worked around two walks (one intentional) in a scoreless frame.
Wander Suero made his 2020 debut with a quick, 10-pitch top of the sixth in which he got a 6-3 DP after giving up a leadoff single.
Sean Doolittle was the fifth pitcher of the night for the Nationals, and he didn’t last long, giving up a leadoff walk, one-out single, and an RBI double with Dominic Smith driving in the Mets’ third run of the game, 3-1. Doolittle was done after 18 pitches, 10 strikes.
Kyle Finnegan inherited two runners and stranded them both to keep it a 3-1 game in the Mets’ favor.
Seth Lugo took over for New York with a 3-1 lead in the eighth, and retired the side in order in a six-pitch frame. 13-straight outs, and he retired the side in order in the ninth as well.
Nationals now 4-5