Max Scherzer had thrown batting practice to the Padres in Game 1 of the National League Wild Card Series at Citi Field last October, serving up four home runs. He also set a Mets record that he happily would have thrown back if he could — most runs allowed in a postseason game.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner yielded seven in the worst postseason outing of his distinguished career. He walked off after 4 2⁄3 innings with boos ringing in his ears that night.
San Diego’s Yu Darvish, on the other hand, dominated as the starter and winner.
Now it was Scherzer vs. Darvish and the Mets vs. the Padres in Monday night’s opener of a three-game April rematch in Queens after San Diego KO’d the Mets in three games when it counted the most.
After stepping up on the mound with a 6.35 ERA to show for his first two outings, Scherzer needed a good start more than revenge before people started tossing his age at him and the questions began. The Mets are counting rather heavily on him, too.
The 38-year-old righthander was a bit off with his fastball command, but the questions didn’t need to resume. Scherzer and the Mets beat the Padres and Darvish, 5-0.
“I thought I was able to avoid the big hit and was able to sequence well enough,” Scherzer said. “I had all my off-speed pitches going . . . I felt like I had a case of the just-misses tonight. I was just missing with that fastball.”
Scherzer (2-1) went to eight full counts and threw 97 pitches in five innings. Yet he made timely pitches, walking three, striking out six and allowing no runs and one hit. John Curtiss, Drew Smith, David Robertson and Adam Ottavino finished off a combined two-hitter.
So Darvish (0-1) lost to the Mets (6-5) for the first time in six decisions. The 36-year-old righthander was charged with five runs and six hits in 6 1⁄3 innings.
Darvish yielded a two-out, two-run double by Jeff McNeil in the third inning. Mark Canha opened the seventh with a double, moved to third on a bunt single by Luis Guillorme that hugged the third-base line and scored on Eduardo Escobar’s sacrifice fly to left to make it 3-0.
Tomas Nido then reached on a single that also hugged the third-base line. With two outs, Francisco Lindor lined a two-run double down the leftfield line off reliever Tim Hill for a 5-0 lead.
“It’s nice to get a win against them,” McNeil said.
Scherzer didn’t get a win in his previous start as the Brewers got to him for back-to-back-to-back homers in a three-run sixth last Tuesday in Milwaukee. He gave up five runs and eight hits and struck out two in 5 1⁄3 innings in what became a 9-0 trouncing.
Against the Padres, however, he pitched out of trouble in the first and third. Scherzer’s second and fourth innings went 1-2-3.
“He just never gives in,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“Obviously, he made his pitches and we didn’t deliver,” Padres third baseman Manny Machado said.
The Padres (6-5) finally managed to get a hit with one out in the fifth when Ha-Seong Kim lined a slider into left-center for a single. Scherzer went full on Austin Nola with two outs, then got him swinging at a fastball to end his outing.
Scherzer had wanted to do a better job of putting hitters away with two strikes. He did.
“I thought I took a step in the right direction,” he said. “ . . . I’m not broken. I wasn’t broken after the Milwaukee start . . . I just had to fine-tune some things.”