Max Scherzer Dominates As Mets Beat Astros 2-0
It’s hard to believe, but we are in the last week-and-a-half of spring training with just two weekends left in the spring season, including this weekend. The Mets traveled from Port St. Lucie down south to West Palm Beach to face the Houston Astros in a night cap at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.
Saturday’s matchup featured two aces: left-handed pitcher Framber Valdez for the Astros against right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer for the Mets. Scherzer went the deepest he has this spring, going seven deep. He struck out 8 and ended with a 0.77 spring ERA. Scherzer looks like he’s in mid-season form in the spring.
Both Valdez and Scherzer looked sharp in the first, retiring their respective sides in order. Following a similar trend of copying each other, Valdez allowed a double to Mets’ prospect Mark Vientos in the second and then Scherzer allowed a double to Chas McCormick in the bottom half of the inning, but they both retired the other three batters they faced to keep the game scoreless after two innings.
It continued to be a pitcher’s duel in the third. Valdez allowed one hit to the Mets in the third, while Scherzer retired the Astros in order, striking out two in the inning to bring his strikeout count to three through three innings.
The Mets grabbed the lead in the top of the fourth. Tommy Pham and Darin Ruf hit back-to-back singles to open the inning. They both advanced on a wild pitch by Valdez. Two batters later, the young prospect Vientos hit a sacrifice fly deep to center field that scored Pham to give the Mets a 1-0 lead over the Astros in the fourth.
Scherzer continued to stroll through the Astros lineup in the bottom of the fourth, retiring the home team in order and recording his fourth strikeout of the night. The Mets got more momentum rolling in the fifth inning. Jose Peraza walked to open the inning. Two batters later, Tim Locastro became the latest Met to be hit by a pitch to put two runners on. Another two batters later, with two outs, Pham walked to load the bases.
Pham’s walk and the bases loaded was the end for Valdez as the Astros went to their bullpen. Bryan Abreu replaced Valdez on the mound for the Astros. He grounded out Ruf to end the inning and keep the game at 1-0, stopping the Mets from doing any damage in the inning. Valdez’s final line read: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 0 HR, 1.98 ERA.
Scherzer came back out for the fifth. He allowed two base runners (a walk to Corey Julks and a deep single to Rylan Bannon) as the Astros tried to spark some fifth inning momentum, but in pure Scherzer fashion, he retired the other three batters he faced to get out of trouble and keep it a 1-0 Mets lead. Through five strong innings, Scherzer had five strikeouts and allowed no runs to the Astros.
The Mets’ bats were quieted in the sixth as Abreu retired the side in order, retiring the first four Mets he faced. Max Scherzer continued to roll in the sixth. He allowed a one-out single to Alex Bregman, but a double play got the Mets out of the inning and it was on to the seventh for the Mets and Astros in a fast-paced spring training game.
The Astros went back to their bullpen in the seventh. They brought in Rafael Montero to replace Abreu on the mound. The Mets extended their lead in the seventh off the bat of Locastro. He hit a long two-out solo home run to deep center to extend the Mets’ lead over the Astros to 2-0. That was Locastro’s first home run of the spring, but it was a continuation of a strong spring for the righty outfielder. Through Saturday’s game, he is hitting .342 with a .444 OBP and a 1.049 OPS. He has eight RBIs and six stolen bases as well.
Max Scherzer came back out to pitch the seventh for the Mets in his deepest outing of the spring. He allowed a lead-off double that made some think he was beginning to tire. But Scherzer put those worries to rest as he struck out the next three batters he faced. Through seven innings, Scherzer was still throwing a scoreless gem with eight strikeouts and a spring ERA of 0.77.
The Astros went back to their bullpen in the eighth. Austin Davis came on to replace Montero on the mound for Houston. Davis retired the Mets in order to take the game to the bottom half of the inning. The Mets went to their bullpen for the first time Saturday in the eighth inning as Max Scherzer’s day was done. Drew Smith came in to pitch the eighth for the Mets in relief of Scherzer. It was a stellar outing for Scherzer who finished with an equally impressive line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO, 0 HR, 0.77 ERA
Smith continued the Mets’ strong pitching performances. He allowed a walk and a single, but struck out three to end the inning. Through eight innings, Mets’ pitchers had combined to strike out 11.
The Astros went back to their bullpen again in the ninth. Ty Buttrey came on to replace Davis on the mound. He retired the Mets in order to send the game to the bottom of the ninth. It was the last chance for the Astros to try and muster up some offense.
Tommy Hunter got the call to come in and close it for the Mets in the bottom of the ninth. He allowed one hit, but struck out two to end the inning and close out the win for the Mets. He also made it a combined total of 13 strikeouts by Mets pitchers, and Hunter collected his first save of spring training too.
Player Of The Game
Max Scherzer takes home the player of the game honors in this one and it isn’t even close. The surefire future Hall of Famer was dominant as he didn’t allow a run in seven innings of work, striking out eight and walking just one batter. With Opening Day getting closer, Scherzer is gradually getting into his groove and it would have been pleasing for everyone to see him own his best stuff against the Astros. The veteran starter was locked in from the very first pitch on Saturday, and he sure looks ready for the proper games to begin.
The Mets are back in Port St. Lucie on Sunday as they face the St. Louis Cardinals at Clover Park. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET.
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