Walk-offs are more fun, right?
The Mets will certainly take their 3-2, last-minute win over the Yankees on Wednesday, but the events that led up to it were less than ideal.
A deeply strange managerial decision in the top of the eighth, a blown chance in the bottom of the eighth and a two-out single in the top of the ninth that forced them to face Aaron Judge are all dust in the wind now. Starling Marte won the game for the Mets with a single in the bottom of the ninth, and the win goes into the books all the same. Even better for the suddenly streaking Mets, it completed a sweep against the best team in the league.
“Every game is a big game, especially in the situation that we’re in currently,” Marte said afterward with the help of team translator Alan Suriel. “We’re playing a tremendous team who’s also in first place, but we continue to battle. Luckily, things came out right and we were able to win the game.”
Before the pandemonium of a walk-off and the mini collapse that made it necessary in the first place, Max Scherzer had himself a pretty nice 38th birthday.
“You want to come to the park and get a win,” the birthday boy said. “That’s all I wanted for my birthday, so that’s what we got.”
With the Mets needing a win to sweep a two-game series from the reeling Yankees, Scherzer lived up to his $43.3 million salary. The bullheaded veteran gave the Mets seven innings of vintage Scherzer, helping them get most of the way to a win.
Before the game, Mets’ manager Buck Showalter was asked about Scherzer, who has become the team’s de facto ace as Jacob deGrom inches his way back to full health. It hasn’t all been roses for Scherzer, who himself missed a month and a half with an oblique injury. But with a player like Scherzer, the manager explained, there was no need to fret about how he’d handle his first Subway Series start.
“If it’s 3,000 people at a spring training game, Max is the same guy,” Showalter said. “If he’s doing drills on a back field, he approaches it the same way. He never fails to have a competitive edge, regardless of what the atmosphere is. That’s good, because a lot of guys aren’t able to do that. I love it.”
Showalter and the Mets had to love what they saw on Wednesday night — though some batted ball luck surely helped — and conversely, the Yankees went home kicking themselves for the second night in a row. They were 0-for-8 on Tuesday with runners in scoring position and 0-for-7 on Wednesday. That noise you heard throughout the game was Yankee general manager Brian Cashman furiously calling up other GM’s to trade for another bat, who turned out to be Andrew Benintendi.
Now, about that managerial decision from Showalter. Five pitches was all it took to briefly spoil Scherzer’s birthday. Staked to a 2-0 lead, having just watched Scherzer put together his masterpiece, David Peterson came in for the eighth.
Four-pitch walk to Anthony Rizzo, first-pitch bomb to Gleyber Torres, tie game.
Showalter’s decision to use Peterson was questionable at best and reckless at worst. Peterson is a career starter who had pitched just three times out of the bullpen this year, four times in his entire career. More importantly, his outing on Wednesday came on the shortest rest he’s ever had. Peterson last pitched on July 24 against San Diego, giving him just two days off. It’ll be interesting now to see how much time off he has to dwell on this Subway Series slip up.
“Looking at their track record, they obviously don’t [pinch] hit for Rizzo and haven’t hit for [Matt] Carpenter in that situation,” Showalter explained. “It was kind of where we were in our bullpen, knowing we were going to have to pitch a couple innings out of there. I liked the way that Peterson came back and got Carpenter. It’s a good learning experience for him.”
Marte saved him in the end though, bringing home Eduardo Escobar who kicked off the ninth with a bullet double into left field. Marte, Escobar and Scherzer were all getting their first taste of the Subway Series, and it’s safe to say they liked the flavor.
“We like playing in situations like that because we know how to control the game,” Marte said, wearing the team’s massive emerald green sombrero that’s given to the player of the game. “We really control our at-bats and take each at-bat seriously.”
“This is fun,” Scherzer said. “This is for bragging rights in New York. It’s fun to compete in an atmosphere like this. Fortunately we played well enough to win both games.”