New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer delivers against the...

New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer delivers against the Cleveland Guardians during the sixth inning in Game One of a day-night MLB baseball doubleheader at Citi Field on Sunday, May 21, 2023. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

As good as he was, Max Scherzer wasn’t quite himself Sunday afternoon.

His fastball was slower. His mix of pitches was even more balanced and diverse than usual. His temperament regarding getting pulled after 86 pitches was even-keeled.

Turned out, he had a reason: a callus on his right thumb split open in his previous start, creating a painful and still-raw spot for his outing against the Guardians. He threw six shutout innings anyway, his best start of the year, in the Mets’ 5-4 win.

Scherzer, who likened his condition to playing basketball with a sprained ankle, said he’ll be OK for his next start, penciled in for Friday against the Rockies. “A lot of pain, but you just gotta suck it up and go through it,” he said. “You’d rather pitch in pain and win than not pitch at all.”

He threw five types of pitches, but only two were pain-free: the curveball and the changeup. The former came with a different grip than usual, his thumb moved up on the ball. Curves came out of Scherzer’s hand faster than usual, too; the rest of the pitches were slightly slower.

“You really don’t take anything from this other than how you compete and how you win,” he said. “So I went out there, gave the team six innings, and for me, I feel like I did my job.”

Scherzer’s batterymate was Gary Sanchez, who went 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and two strikeouts in his Mets debut.

 

“For no experience working together or with each other, we actually worked pretty well,” Scherzer said.

Sanchez said: “He made me look good, the type of pitcher that he is, a Hall of Fame pitcher who’s able to locate all of his pitches pretty easily. I thought it would be a little bit more difficult, but it wasn’t.”

Extra bases

Tomas Nido (dry eye syndrome) has reported no vision issues while rehabbing with Low-A St. Lucie, according to manager Buck Showalter. He is 2-for-11 with a homer and three strikeouts through three games .  .  . Jose Quintana (rib surgery) threw his first bullpen session since March on Saturday, as scheduled. Showalter said it went well . . . Tommy Pham’s third stolen base of the season was the 100th of his career. He is one of 21 active players to reach triple digits in steals and homers.

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME