Mets high hopes suddenly in jeopardy after Game 1 clash


Worst team $290 million could buy?

The Mets haven’t earned that moniker yet, but they’re set to wear that tag after Friday night’s stink bomb 7-1 loss to the Padres in Game 1 of their NL Wild Card series. And it was Max Scherzer, three-time Cy Young Award winner and highest-paid player ($43.3 million for 2022) in the sport, who lit the fuse.

Scherzer was booed off the mound by the sold-out crowd of 41,621 at Citi Field just two outs deep in the fifth inning after serving four homers and seven earned runs — the most ever by a Mets pitcher in a game. post-season.

It was truly a shocking development, probably the most overwhelming performance by a future Hall of Famer from Flushing since Tom Glavine torpedoed the Mets’ faltering playoff hopes by giving the Marlins seven berths on the final day of the game. 2007. season.

And now the Mets are staring into the abyss of a quick playoff exit after a 101-win season in which they spent 175 days atop the NL East. Everything is also unraveled at breathtaking speed. A week ago, the Mets traveled to Atlanta with a chance to clinch the division title. Now, after being rejected in the Wild Card series opener, they are 24 hours away from a long and frustrating winter of regrets.

It is no longer about validation. When Jacob deGrom takes the mound for Game 2 on Saturday night, it’s all about survival for the Mets. And pride, self-esteem, maybe even avoiding the label of colossal underachievers.

After the Mets faceplant in Game 1 on Friday night, it’s almost comical to think that manager Buck Showalter actually considered saving deGrom to pitch in the next round against the Dodgers in the Division Series. Now he must save them from another humiliating sweep.

“We have a very resilient club here,” Brandon Nimmo said afterwards. “We’ve been able to come back from deficits before where people didn’t think we could. I expect everyone to be ready to play tomorrow. You face elimination, which always increases your emotions and concentration a little. I can guarantee you guys will be good to go.

Nothing is guaranteed with these Mets, however. And no matter how hard they tried to convince us that making the playoffs was a worthy accomplishment, it’s clearly far from enough.

Remember all that swaggy new gear that Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso loved, the stuff with the post-season logos? If they fail to bounce back Saturday night, the Mets will make the playoffs for the first time in six years. . . and all they got was these lousy t-shirts.

“We just have to dig our heels in and be ready to fight,” Alonso said. “I know we will. I know we have our work cut out, but I’m confident we’ll be ready to go.

And we thought last weekend’s sweep of Atlanta was a disaster. At least it was in the hands of the reigning world champions, another 101-win team and a longtime NL East foe. To be bounced by the Padres to 88 wins, on their home turf, would be inexcusable.

When it comes to guarantees, remember when Scherzer was considered as close to a sure thing as there was on a mound? Those days may be over for 2022 as it appears to be crumbling before our eyes.

Josh Bell got the sold-out Citi Field crowd out of the game early with his first-inning two-run homer, but it was just a taste of what was to come. 8 hitter Trent Grisham hammered a 401-foot shot over the right-field wall with two outs in the second. In the fifth, Jurickson Profar (three-point shot) and Manny Machado went deep, the latter prompting Showalter to fetch the baseball from Scherzer, who was loudly booed as he walked towards the dugout.

Scherzer’s seven earned runs were the most he’s allowed in 21 career playoff starts. According to ESPN, he’s only the second pitcher in MLB history to give up seven earned runs and four home runs in a postseason game (the other was the Reds’ Gene Thompson against the Yankees in the Series). world of 1939). Including that Atlanta meltdown, Scherzer has allowed 16 hits, 11 earned runs and six homers in his last 10. 1⁄3 innings, encompassing two of his biggest starts in a Mets uniform.

“Baseball can take you to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” he said. “This is one of the lowest of lows.”

The fact that the Mets were even playing in the wild card round was a bummer in and of itself. There’s no other way to turn their destiny around in the regular season, and the Mets mostly have themselves to blame — other than giving Atlanta credit for their relentless pursuit since about mid- June.

Losing the division title to a team as good as Atlanta is one thing, but the Mets don’t have a second chance now. This season cannot end with a participation trophy. They have to prove that what we have witnessed over the past six months was not a mirage. Saturday night could be their last chance.


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