WASHINGTON – On a night that was supposed to revolve around Mad Max, the Mets were just as furious.
Francisco Lindor became the Mets’ fourth hitter in 14 innings to come out bruised, leading to a bench-clearing skirmish in what became a 7-3 win over the Nationals on Friday night in Max Scherzer’s debut for the Mets.
A game that had it all — including a 14-minute delay at the start because the lights didn’t turn on, that delay and 38 minutes of rain delays in the ninth — left the Mets angry, defiant and flawless through two contests.
What was building for the game and a half exploded in the fifth inning. Lindor squared off to be defeated, but the second note thrown by Savior Steve Chechik came to his head. Lindor hit the field (he then said he thought the ball hit him in the helmet flap), then hit the ground – and the Mets started pouring onto the field as he pointed at Cech.
“I don’t really want to hear about the intent,” said Buck Showalter, who led the operation. “You puke in there, these things can’t happen. Max had no problem controlling the ball tonight.”
Both sides were pushed and pushed and both bulls poured into the field. The two sides did not exchange any punches, but many insults.
Lindor was on the floor for part of the festivities before getting up and leaving the game with a coach. Syschke’s third base coach, Gary Desarsina, and former Mets coach Nationals were hit by a throw. Cishek later apologized to Lindor.
X-rays on the shortstop’s jaw were negative, and Lindor passed a concussion test.
“I’m proud to be a visitor to New York City,” said Lindor, a cheerleader, with a bruise on his chin and possibly one of his cracked teeth. “I got hit, I was on the floor, and I heard something. I’m looking for my whole team in there – the entire coaching staff is in there. … That says a lot.”
Showalter said the Mets were unhappy on Thursday, when James McCann was hit twice by the pitches, Pete Alonso was hit in the shoulder, hit by the flap of his helmet and blood in his mouth.
The Mets hit one hit in the series — Scherzer hit Washington’s Josh Bell in the lower leg in the second half on Friday. The cold night may have affected how well the bowlers were able to catch the ball.
“The ball got away from Sechk there,” Scherzer said of the veteran, who was fired not because of intent, but according to a report gathered with crew chief Mark Carlson, as it escalated the situation. “It’s a cold night. The ball can slip on you.”
Before the melee, the Starling Mart lined up a double that led Brandon Nemo, who proved to be the winner of the game. Marte, who went 2 for 5 with three RBIs, also provided post-fight lockout, when he made a one-hit sixth that turned much of the Mets’ anger into celebration.
None of the drama seemed to affect Scherzer, who was like Calm Max for the remainder of the match. After a long break between innings, he needed just 23 pitches to sit quietly with his former teammates over the next two rounds, and restore some order to the competition.
Scherzer—who was faithful to his reputation, fully focused all the time, never bothering to party or nostalgia—wasn’t perfect, but he didn’t need to be. He allowed three walks and three hits in six innings, including Homer’s two-round turn to Bale in the fourth inning which tied the score 3-3.
For his part, Scherzer wanted no sympathy. In good buddy Juan Soto at the start, the star showed off aggressively – essentially trolling a Scherzer – before sprinting left. Soto seemed to want to say something to Scherzer before heading back into the dugout, but Scherzer, who won the 2019 world championship with Soto, didn’t look his way.
“Just a crazy wild experience,” Scherzer said of his show at a place he called his home for six and a half seasons. “It’s almost too good to be the first time – just get it out of the way.”
Losing in a game that became because of the abuse the Mets felt is the way the Mets attack clicked. Once again, they had hits in time (5 vs. 14 with two runners in scoring) and big hits (five additional base strokes). Jeff McNeill, Eduardo Escobar fired his second double in as many matches and Nimmo tripled in his first season.
Lost, too, is the fact that the Bullpen only allowed one in seven rounds, and the Mets – with many injury concerns and a lack of Jacob deGrom – perfect over two games.
However, the Mets don’t think the Nationals shooters were perfect.