A Hollywood ending to Max Scherzer’s season has the New York Mets beginning the playoffs in Los Angeles.
Having lost five straight after Scherzer’s second no-hitter of 2015, the reeling Mets hope to get their sagging offense on track in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Washington Nationals.
Scherzer’s 17-strikeout, near-perfect game finished off a doubleheader sweep Saturday that ensured New York (89-72) will begin the NLDS on the road Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Mets’ lone base runner came on a throwing error by third baseman Yunel Escobar in the sixth inning of the Nationals’ 2-0 win.
Washington won the opener 3-1, with Bryce Harper’s 42nd homer snapping a 1-all tie in the eighth inning.
The Mets were held to five hits in game one after managing six in a shutout loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday. They didn’t come close to one against Scherzer, who fanned nine straight before Curtis Granderson’s popup made him the sixth pitcher to throw two-hitters in a season and first since Nolan Ryan in 1973 to do so in a regular season.
”These things are special,” Scherzer said. ”To do it twice in one season, my gosh, it doesn’t seem possible.”
The Mets are hitting .163 during this skid. They averaged 5.7 runs while going 36-19 in August and September to overtake Washington (83-78) for the NL East lead.
”Win or lose is not the issue right now. We’re going to party on here,” manager Terry Collins said. ”We’re playing Friday. I don’t care where it’s at.” ”But we’ve got to get the edge back. We got to get the focus back, the concentration back. Those are the things that when you clinch early, you can lose. And those are the things we’ve got to regain."
Collins announced following the doubleheader that Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.60 ERA) will pitch Game 1 on regular rest following the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year’s start Sunday.
DeGrom had 11 days between his most recent start, an 8-1 victory at Cincinnati on Sept. 27 in which he yielded a run in six innings and struck out nine to stand two shy of 200.
He’s won just once in his last eight outings at Citi Field despite posting a 2.81 ERA, however, getting just 13 runs of support over that span.
Harper, tied for the NL’s home run lead with Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, is 7 for 13 against deGrom this season and homered off him in a 5-3 Mets’ win Sept. 9 in Washington. The 22-year-old slugger also enters the finale with 99 RBIs and slightly ahead of Miami’s Dee Gordon for the NL batting title.
Tanner Roark (4-7, 4.63) gets the call as the 2014 NL East champion Nationals conclude a disappointing and turbulent season, with the right-hander seeking to win a sixth consecutive start against New York. Three of those victories have come at Citi Field, where Roark allowed two runs over 6 1-3 innings in the most recent Sept. 11, 2014.
Roark, 0-3 with a 4.91 ERA in five starts since rejoining the rotation in September, has faced the Mets four times in relief this season.
The right-hander surrendered a pair of solo homers to A.J. Pierzynski in 6 2-3 innings of Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Atlanta and has allowed five homers over his past three starts.