Marcus Stroman of the Mets pitches during the first inning...

Marcus Stroman of the Mets pitches during the first inning against the Nationals in the first game of a doubleheader at Citi Field on Thursday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

It was surprising a few days ago when Mets acting general manager Zack Scott criticized his players for, among other things, not hydrating well enough.

"Maybe you’re not hydrating enough even though everyone’s on you to hydrate," Scott said. "At some point, you’ve got to take responsibility. We’re not just going to stick a needle in someone to hydrate them all because they’re not doing it themselves."

This led to many questions: Who exactly was Scott talking about? Is lack of hydration one of the reasons the Mets have suffered so many pulled muscles this season?

And, the most important question of all (at least to me): How was this entire hydration affair not dubbed "Mets’ Watergate" by New York’s tabloid headline writers?

As fate would have it, hydration issues were front and center in the fourth inning of the Mets’ 4-1 victory over the Nationals in the first game of a doubleheader on Thursday at Citi Field.

Marcus Stroman, who was pitching a one-hit gem and had a 3-0 lead, was overcome by what he called getting "super lightheaded and kind of dizzy" on the mound.

Stroman had just made a super play to get an out on a grounder hit by Juan Soto. Two innings earlier, Stroman had bunted for a hit and scored on Brandon Nimmo’s three-run home run.

 

So when Stroman was standing on the mound with his hands on his knees on an oven hot 95-degree day, the Mets were concerned. Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner was among the group to come out and check on Stroman, and then Hefner ran back into the dugout to get Stroman a bottle of water.

"Just kind of needed a second," Stroman said. "Just kind of catch my breath and get back to seeing straight."

After Stroman’s hydration break, he went on to pitch 5 1/3 innings and picked up his eighth victory of the season.

"I'm not someone who hydrates very well," Stroman volunteered after the game. "Something I'm trying to learn to do better as far as on game day. I'm great as far as on my five-day [between start routine], but when [game day] comes, I get so nervous it's hard for me to put anything in my system on game day. So it's always a battle."

Stroman is one of the fittest players on the Mets. He is proud of, and is always willing to talk about, how he keeps himself in prime shape. So it was telling and to his credit that he was willing to admit a weakness — if you could call it that — in his game day routine.

Somewhere, was Scott smiling? Had his message gotten through to one player, at least?

Manager Luis Rojas shed some more light on the situation when he volunteered that the 30-year-old Stroman is "known to sweat profusely [on] days like this."

Wasn’t that true of everyone in the New York area on Thursday?

Stroman came out of the game after allowing a run in the sixth. He left Aaron Loup with runners on second and third with Juan Soto due up. Loup walked Soto to load the bases before getting Josh Bell to ground into an inning-ending double play, with Pete Alonso saving an error and a run by tagging out Bell on Jonathan Villar’s poor throw to first.

The Mets are trying to right the ship after their recent poor stretch. Playing against the stripped-down Nationals helps. The next 13 games starting Friday are against the tough Dodgers and Giants, which almost seemed to be news to Stroman in the between-games Zoom room.

"I live in the moment, man. I haven't even looked up tomorrow, to be honest with you, so I couldn't tell you about the next stretch," he said. "I stay super-present, as does this team. We have a lot to accomplish . . . I think staying present in the moment is the key to life."

Stay present and stay hydrated. Words to live by.