The Mets began their midseason roster retooling Friday night by acquiring righthander-mashing Daniel Vogelbach. Their ensuing 4-1 loss to the Padres showed why.
In their first game back from the All-Star break, the Mets picked up where they left off, struggling to do much of anything at the plate. The problem this time wasn’t so much driving in the runners on base as it was getting them on to begin with.
The Mets (58-36) didn’t get a runner as far as second base until the seventh, when Luis Guillorme came through with a two-out double to drive in Jeff McNeil. That was the only blemish on a sharp night for San Diego righthander Yu Darvish, who struck out nine, walked one and scattered four hits in seven innings.
Hence why the Mets shipped reliever Colin Holderman to Pittsburgh for Vogelbach, who is expected to join the team on Saturday and slot in as the designated hitter against righthanded pitchers.
Vogelbach would’ve helped, manager Buck Showalter said. But he didn’t blame his hitters for the loss.
“It was more of a night where the starting pitcher was on top of his game and we just couldn’t find our footing,” he said.
Max Scherzer said: “I got outpitched tonight.”
The Mets managed to bring the tying run to the plate with one out in the ninth thanks to a hit batsman and an error, but Eduardo Escobar lined out to rightfield and pinch hitter Mark Canha grounded out to end it.
The Mets — whose lead over second-place Atlanta was cut to 1 1⁄2 games — wasted another quality start from Scherzer, who allowed two runs and five hits in six innings. He walked one batter, hit another and struck out eight.
Scherzer moved up to 15th on the all-time list with a career strikeout total of 3,118, a feat that came with a cool footnote. He passed not only Curt Schilling (3,116) but also Cardinals great Bob Gibson (3,117). Scherzer, a St. Louis-area native, said he will give the ball from his last strikeout to his father, Brad Scherzer, a huge Gibson fan.
“That was my dad’s favorite pitcher,” Scherzer said. “As a kid growing up, he was one of my idols. I did book reports on him left and right. I know so much of his career and what he meant to the St. Louis Cardinals organization and obviously what he meant to my dad and to me. To pass him, that’s a huge thing for me personally.”
Aside from Justin Verlander, Scherzer’s former Tigers teammate, who is 14th with 3,121 and still striking people out for Houston, the next pitcher he is set to match is a former Met: Pedro Martinez, No. 13 with 3,154 punchouts.
“That’s pretty good company you’re getting into,” Showalter said. “We all know where this story is going to end for his career. It’s an honor to watch him pitch.”
Against San Diego (53-42), Scherzer worked around a pair of baserunners in the second inning and another pair in the third before cracking in the fourth. Eric Hosmer hit a two-run home run to left-centerfield.
“[Darvish] was having quick innings there in the first part of the game,” Scherzer said. “It’s kind of a time-of-possession thing, where I was grinding through the first three innings and he was very efficient. That’s usually a tough situation to pitch in. I like being on the other side of that, forcing the other pitcher to have to grind.”
Catcher Tomas Nido exited in the sixth inning because of a bruised left hand. Early in the game, Nido got crossed up on a Scherzer pitch that caught him on the hand. X-rays were negative.
“He got a little sore as the game went on,” Showalter said. “It wasn’t a good idea [to keep him in] when he couldn’t swing the bat.”