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Scherzer sparkles as Mets pick up a needed win

For once, the offense and pitching clicked at the same time.

New York Mets v Houston Astros Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Mets came into Houston in a precarious position. They had split with the Yankees and lost the series to the Cardinals over the week before, and they had to come face a Houston Astros team that, while missing their best hitter in Yordan Álvarez, were still the defending World Series champions with an incredibly good pitching staff. The Mets were throwing Max Scherzer in their first game, and Scherzer had had two straight starts prior where he gave up at least five runs. The Mets needed him to be better so they could have a chance of winning.

The first couple innings of the game were relatively quiet. Hunter Brown set down the Mets side in order twice, and Scherzer looked to be regaining his form that had been eluding him in the previous two starts. He got three strikeouts in just two innings, which spelled good things for the Mets in their attempt to get another much-needed win.

The third inning, though, was where the Mets really broke out. Daniel Vogelbach led off the festivities with a home run, his second since coming back from his so-called “mental break”. Brett Baty and Francisco Álvarez singled back to back to put two runners on with still no outs for the top of the order. Brandon Nimmo lined out but Starling Marte singled to drive in Baty to tack on another run. But the biggest moment of the inning was Francisco Lindor’s three-run home run, which put the Mets ahead a healthy five runs, not a guarantee but a good sign. The Astros got out of it after that but they had quite a hole to dig themselves out of.

After that top of the third, both pitchers kept chugging along without much issue. Jeremy Peña singled in the third but that remained the Astros only baserunners for multiple innings after that. The Mets went two more innings with only one baserunner, a walk from Álvarez. But while Brown’s third inning pushed him to 90 pitches by the time he was pulled after 5.2 innings, Scherzer kept his pitch count low, averaging about ten pitches an inning through five innings.

In the sixth, Tommy Pham doubled and Jeff McNeil singled to tack on another run to the Mets lead. After Vogelbach struck out and Baty grounded out, the Astros brought in Ryne Stanek to take over pitching, ending Brown’s night after 5.2 innings while Scherzer was still going with less than fifty pitches after five innings. In the sixth, the Astros gave Scherzer some fits, getting two base runners with two outs, but Scherzer got his way out of it with still barely over 60 pitches.

In the bottom of the seventh, Scherzer finally gave up a home run to Yainer Díaz, for the only run the Astros scored on Scherzer. He struggled a little more later in the game, giving up a few more hits but still getting out of any serious trouble and generally being the Max Scherzer everyone knows and loves. Lindor hit a two-run double (aided by some misplay by the Astros outfield) to tack onto the Mets already sizable lead. Pete Alonso walked, and Pham singled to drive in Lindor, and yet the inning still wasn’t over. McNeil singled to load the bases, and Vogelbach hit a two-run single that kept runners in scoring position for Brett Baty who had started the ninth inning. Baty struck out on a generous strike call, but the Mets held a double digit lead over the reigning World Series champions with just three outs to go.

Scherzer came out after eight innings, giving way for Grant Hartwig in his major league debut with a pretty pressureless first game. After giving up a hit to the first batter he faced, he got a double play to get himself two quick outs. After giving up a two-out walk, he got Yainer Díaz to ground out for the final out. The Mets won a game they needed, both for the momentum and the general vibes. And they beat the Astros, a team they hadn’t beaten since 2014.

The Mets have two more games against the Astros, games that they will have more of an uphill battle in those games, as they will have to face Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier. But the win was much-needed, and if they can put together a few more of these, maybe they can get back to a winning record. They have Justin Verlander pitching tomorrow, facing his former team and also looking to gain some form of consistency this season, after several up and down weeks.

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What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Max Scherzer, +20.4% WPA
Big Mets loser: Brandon Nimmo, -7.9% WPA
Mets pitchers: +20.5% WPA
Mets hitters: +29.5% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Francisco Lindor’s three-run homer in the third, +15.9% WPA
Teh sux0rest play: Jeremy Peña’s single in the bottom of the third, -2.5% WPA