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Mets find themselves in sticky situation, drop series opener to Yankees

Max Scherzer was bad and Drew Smith got ejected without throwing a pitch for failing a sticky stuff check. Life is pain.

MLB: New York Yankees at New York Mets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

In a season full of annoying games, this one was right near the top. The Mets lost the first game of this two-game Subway Series at Citi Field, falling 7-6 on Tuesday night as Max Scherzer had another rough outing, and the Mets saw Drew Smith get ejected following a sticky stuff check before even throwing a pitch—this comes with an automatic 10-game suspension, during which the Mets will be unable to replace Smith on their roster. Absolutely nothing is coming up Mulhouse right now.

Scherzer was immediately greeted rudely, as Giancarlo Stanton took a hanging slider and deposited it into the left field seats to give the Yankees an early lead two batters into the first inning. To the right-hander’s credit, he did settle down after that, retiring seven of the next nine hitters he faced, though he did hit Anthony Rizzo and Stanton in that stretch.

The Mets’ bats did come alive over the first three innings to give Scherzer a lead to work with. They got the run right back with a Brandon Nimmo solo homer to lead off the first, and then they jumped ahead later in the inning, after Francisco Álvarez and Francisco Lindor walked, and Brett Baty drove home Álvarez with a single. The Mets added two more in the second, as Mark Canha doubled, Nimmo was hit by a pitch, and Jeff McNeil drove them home with a single. New York’s fifth run came courtesy of a Canha ground out with the bases loaded, which helped Starling Marte cross the plate.

With Scherzer on the mound, that should have been enough, but he had a rough go of it yet again. He served up another homer in the third, this time of the two-run variety to the scuffling DJ LeMahieu to bring the Bronx Bombers to within two. The Yankees got runners at the corners on singles from Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Kyle Higashioka, and Anthony Volpe looped a double to drive in their fourth run. Jake Bauers put the Yankees back in front with a two-run single that dropped in front of Marte. That was all she wrote for Scherzer, who was pulled after 3 13 innings with six earned runs to his name. With the outing, his ERA has ballooned to 4.45 on the season, which remains a concern as the Mets try desperately to claw their way back into the postseason race.

The Mets briefly had their moment in the fifth, when Luis Guillorme’s single drove home Baty to tie up the game against Severino, who was equally ineffective in this one and found himself pulled before the inning ended. However, it was short-lived, as Josh Donaldson drove home the eventual game-deciding run on a sacrifice fly off Josh Walker.

One of the key moments in this game came in the top of the seventh, and it won’t show up in the box score. Smith was called upon by Buck Showalter to enter the game in relief of Walker, and the umpires conducted a sticky stuff check on the mound before the right-hander even threw a pitch. At that moment, it was deemed that Smith had exceeded the league-sanctioned sticky stuff limit, and he was unceremoniously tossed from this game without even leaving his mark on the contest. He will now have the next ten games to observe from the sidelines, while the Mets play one man short on their roster.

Despite the drama and the deficit, the Mets still had plenty of chances to tie this game up, but they came up empty. In the sixth, McNeil and Lindor reached based with two outs, but Marte struck out to extinguish the threat. In the eighth, the Mets loaded the bases with one out against Wandy Peralta, but the Yankees brought in Clay Holmes, who struck out Lindor and Marte to maintain the lead. Michael King shut the door in the ninth to preserve the victory and put the Mets in the loss column for the ninth time in ten games.

In the end, the Mets went 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base. Even with Scherzer pitching as poorly as he did, they held their destiny in their own hands and let it get away with more failed opportunities. This remains a troubling trend that continues to sink this team further in the standings.

The loss broke a streak of three straight wins for the Mets over their crosstown rivals at Citi Field. They will try to get back in the win column on Wednesday night, as Justin Verlander takes the mound against Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole.

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Win Probability Added

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Brandon Nimmo, 21.9% WPA
Big Mets loser: Max Scherzer, -51.6% WPA
Mets pitchers: -43.1% WPA
Mets hitters: -6.9% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Luis Guillorme run-scoring single in the fifth, 15.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jake Bauers two-run single in the fourth, -15.8% WPA