Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer delivers against the Colorado Rockies...

Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer delivers against the Colorado Rockies during the first inning of an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The boxscore dictated that Max Scherzer got the loss Sunday when the Mets dropped their finale with the Rockies, 1-0, and technically that was true. But you can blame the batters.

The Mets managed only three hits — all singles — and never got a runner to third base as they fell short of earning a four-game sweep. That was an extreme version of a problem that plagued them throughout the series: Despite overall success, they displayed an underwhelming offense against a team that entered with a worst-in-the-majors 5.16 ERA. The Rockies pitched to a 2.94 ERA at Citi Field.

“We won three games against a major-league team out of four,” manager Buck Showalter said when asked specifically about the hitting. “That’s really hard to do. I don’t care where you’re playing, who you’re playing, coming off a tough road trip. I’m proud of the way they went after it.”

He added: “We won three out of four, but every game was close and could’ve turned either way.”

Francisco Lindor, who went 0-for-4 and is 0-for-his-last-19, and Showalter separately and repeatedly credited righthander German Marquez for stifling the Mets (82-47) on Sunday. He allowed one hit in seven innings to edge Scherzer (seven innings, four hits, one run). Marquez didn’t allow a hit until the fifth, when Jeff McNeil led off with a single. He finished with five strikeouts and two walks.

“I thought the pitcher was very legit today,” Showalter said. “Coming into the series, I knew he was going to be a challenge .  .  . He was really in attack mode. He had a lot of counts in his favor. Never really got a lot of momentum against him. Very much like Max.”

Scherzer (9-4, 2.27) and Marquez (7-10, 4.97) had matching one-hit shutouts going into the seventh, when Colorado (55-74) scratched across a run with a bit of luck.

 

After C.J. Cron lined a leadoff single to leftfield, Jose Iglesias’ bunt to third baseman Brett Baty turned into a single and Randal Grichuk’s slow roller, also toward Baty, turned into a single. That loaded the bases with none out. Scherzer escaped with only one run, on Brian Serven’s sacrifice fly. It nearly became more, but Tyler Naquin made a running catch in deep right to limit the damage.

Scherzer finished with 11 strikeouts and one walk. The 110th double-digit strikeout game of his career tied him with Roger Clemens for third in MLB history behind Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.

After throwing a season-high 112 pitches — the last a fastball that nipped the inside edge of the plate for a called third strike on Garrett Hampson — Scherzer said he felt “actually really good.”

“This was a good time to actually push the pitch count, get exposed to something over 100,” he said. “The game unfolded that way. I wanted to be in that situation. It’s good for your arm to experience a high pitch count. You get more resiliency in your arm, so when you do go out there and throw 100 pitches, it feels a lot easier. So that’s really one of the biggest benefits out of today, that I was able to get to 112 pitches and my arm feels good.

“Bases loaded, no outs, over 100 pitches and I still felt good. That’s what I can [tell] Buck and the rest of the staff. Hey, even in those situations I felt good, I felt strong, I felt like I could execute pitches.”

Now the powerhouse Dodgers, 34 1/2 games ahead of the Rockies in the NL West, come to Queens for a three-game set beginning Tuesday. They lead the majors with a 2.84 ERA.

“[The Rockies] study just like us. Yeah, you would like to score a lot of runs, but it is what it is,” Lindor said. “I wish we could roll through every team out there. But as long as we win, I’m good.”