Drew Smith was responsible for only one run earned run Friday night, but it turned out to be a killer.
After being handed the ball following starter Max Scherzer’s stellar 7-inning, 1-run outing, Smith walked the first two batters of the eighth inning. He then gave up a single to Ty France, allowing the Seattle Mariners (15-18) to pull ahead for a 2-1 win. The run Smith gave up was actually the first run tagged to him all season. Prior to Friday, Smith had a streak of 12 outings (13.1 innings) in which he did not give up a run.
Smith walked off the field after retiring his last three batters of the inning head down and visibly disappointed. The damage was done.
“I like the fact he didn’t let the inning get away from him, kept us engaged in the game,” manager Buck Showalter said of Smith after the game. “Command was a little off. I can’t really be picky with him, certainly he’s shown us better.”
The Mets’ (22-12) next chance at tying it up again came the bottom of the inning off a ball that left Pete Alonso’s bat at 103 miles per hour but died at the warning track. Alonso took off his helmet after rounding first base, equal parts frustrated and perplexed.
“It is what it is. An outs an out,” Alonso said of the hit.
It was a much different mood for the Mets just one inning prior, when Scherzer screamed in celebration as he escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh.
Mariners’ manager Scott Servais joked about what his batters were told about hitting against Scherzer.
“Don’t look at the brown eye,” he said with a chuckle. Maybe they did it. Maybe they didn’t.
Scherzer retired a total of 19 batters, including the first 10 of the night, with six strikeouts and two hit batters. He gave up one earned run on three hits and issued two walks over seven innings and 98 pitches on Thursday. It was the first time he hit two batters in one game since July 8, 2021, when he was still with the Nationals.
“Max was really good tonight,” Buck Showalter said of Scherzer. “He’s fun to watch.
“When he goes in there, he’s either gonna go in for the strike or get it in there and it probably just ran on a little more than usual,” the Mets manager later speculated about why Scherzer clipped those two batters.
In the fourth inning, Scherzer plunked France with his four-seam fastball, drawing audible gasps from the home crowd. His second mistake was the single he gave up to his very next batter, J.P. Crawford, who entered the game with a lofty .953 OPS. That fourth inning got a little messier for Scherzer, when he gave up another single, this time to his fifth batter of the inning, Jesse Winker, which allowed France to score and tie the game 1-1.
He got into a little trouble again in the seventh when he loaded the bases after giving up a single to Eugenio Suarez and walking Winker and Ford. But he got his final batter of the inning, Steven Souza Jr., to ground into a double play, closing the inning without another Mariner scoring.
“I’m trying to strike him out. Strikeout’s the best thing you can do in that situation,” Scherzer recalled of his plan of attack against Souza. “Ball in play, anything can happen. Fortunate enough [Souza] hit it right to [Eduardo Escobar] and Eduardo did a good job of fielding it, recognize the situation. … It was a huge moment in the ballgame.”
And Scherzer was able to walk away to ravenous cheers from the Mets faithful.
Maybe if Alonso’s ball had gone out in the eighth, those cheers would not have fallen on deaf ears.
“Off contact and in the sound? Absolutely. I thought it had what it took to go over the wall, but it just didn’t unfortunately,” Alonso said. The slugger also could not determine whether it was the ball or just bad weather conditions that stopped it from clearing the fence.
The weather could have played a factor. There was “a wall of fog,” as Alonso described it, that lingered about midway down the field through the game. And Showalter, though credited Mariners’ starter Marco Gonzalez for a strong showing, also noted that his batters had some of the hardest hit balls of the night that went nowhere.
“I’m not gonna start to get into all the things they’re doing over baseball. Normally velocities dictate,” the Mets manager said.
The first-place Mets will get another chance at a W against the Mariners on Saturday.