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Max Scherzer grinds through Phillies lineup as Mets grab much-needed victory, 4-2

PHILADELPHIA — After weeks of saying they need to get better, the Mets did, in fact, play better in a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

The team has avoided the cliche saying of playing one game at a time, but they’ve acknowledged that it makes little sense to look ahead right now when they are still figuratively looking up at three other teams in the NL East standings. They’re trying not to panic in the midst of a disastrous season.

So hours after a disastrous game, they cleaned some things up. They caught routine popups and made routine groundouts. The Phillies tied the game and the Mets pushed back.

Max Scherzer (7-2) tossed six innings in a gritty, 107-pitch performance the Mets (35-41) badly needed.

“He invites the moment,” said Mets manager Buck Showalter. “He doesn’t ever run from it. He knows what trying to win a baseball game today could mean.”

The ace was efficient through the first three innings before running into trouble in the third with a leadoff home run by Nick Castellanos. The damage was minimal, but the Mets’ lead was cut in half, 2-1. The Phillies (39-37) tied the game in the fifth when Brandon Marsh doubled and Trea Turner singled through the left side to drive him home.

Scherzer’s fastball was losing juice. Castellanos singled and stole second. But he struck out Bryce Harper using mostly off-speed offerings to end the inning and get out of a second-and-third jam.

Scherzer exited after giving up two runs on seven hits, walking one and striking out eight.

It was the second straight win and quality start for Scherzer, who went eight innings in a win over the Houston Astros on Monday. It showed that the Mets can get these types of outings from their starting staff on a regular basis, though why they haven’t so far is still a mystery.

“It was a hot, hot day today, but it felt like I didn’t have to really use a lot of effort to generate velocity. I was just pitching,”  Scherzer said. “I don’t want to say cruising, but not having to step on the fastball to throw a good fastball. After the fifth, I was at 95 pitches, but my arm felt like it was 85. I felt strong and like I could finish that inning.”

Kyle Schwarber, who was briefly a former teammate of Scherzer’s in Washington, struck out looking three times.

“I used everything to sequence around him,” Scherzer said. “I know he’s a threat. I know he can hit the ball a long way — I’ve given them up [to him]. You’ve got to be cognizant of that. You can’t make mistakes with him. He does a good job of controlling the zone and forcing you to throw strikes. You’ve got to be able to throw strikes and locate, because the moment you make a mistake, it’s gone. He’s always a tough at-bat, but I always love facing him because it’s that type of challenge.”

In the top of the sixth, the Mets chased left-hander Christopher Sanchez (0-1) from the game and loaded the bases with no outs on Yunior Marte. Pete Alonso hit into a force out to score one and with runners on the corners, Tommy Pham poked a single through the right side to score another and make it 4-2.

Starling Marte hit his fourth home run of the season in the first inning off Sanchez to put the Mets up 1-0. Luis Guillorme’s triple helped them go up 2-0 before the Phillies tied it. The Mets stayed patient and persistent.

Brooks Raley, Adam Ottavino and David Robertson locked down the lead. With the help of inning-ending double plays in the eighth and ninth, Robertson got the final five outs of the game for his 11th save of the season using 13 pitches.

“It’s like the greatest day of my life,” Robertson said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had two double plays in a game, not even in high school. I got lucky. They have a great lineup but a couple balls went right where I needed them to go and we escaped with a win.”

Robertson had nearly a week in between outings because the Mets didn’t have any high-leverage innings to use him for over the last week, which shows how things have been going for the team lately.

The veteran right-hander, who went to Philadelphia in a trade from the Chicago Cubs last season, received his NL championship ring at home plate prior to the start of the game. Justin Verlander received his World Series ring before the first game of this six-game road trip in Houston on Monday. It was a reminder of better days with other teams.

The Mets hope better days are ahead with this team, but looking ahead any further past Sunday’s series finale will help no one.

“Every day, you hope it’s the start of something bigger and better,” Showalter said.


Source: Berkshire mont

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