Scherzer and the Nats vs. Syndergaard and the Mets: A Duel of the Best

Scherzer and the Nats vs. Syndergaard and the Mets: A Duel of the Best

by Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

Noah Syndergaard and Max Scherzer as they say in baseball is the premiere matchup on the mound with two of the elite.  For the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals it’s also bringing the showcase in mid May to Citi Field and there were expectations with two teams to battle for first place to the end in the NL East.

Syndergaard won the duel, and not that Scherzer was off his game plan. But the Mets needed this win after a mediocre west coast trip that saw them lose first place to the Nationals and in the end it was the Mets coming up with the 2-0 win that was won on their home run ball.

And after no-hitting the Mets last September, at a time when New York had control of the division, it was Scherzer once again looking for dominance at Citi Field?  Think of the mindset of any pitcher who takes the mound. A win is one thing, and the no-hitter is always possible when the strikeout ball is working to perfection and for Syndergaard and Scherzer that very much applies.

More importantly, the Mets and Nationals has become an elite rivalry in the National League. There is enthusiasm and a feel of October baseball in the ballpark.  Scherzer got his 10 strikeouts in 6.1 innings and Syndergaard matched him, but two home run balls by Scherzer was the difference.

“I think he rises to the challenge,” said Mets manager Terry Collins about the righthander who improved to 4-2 in lowering the ERA to 2.19. The fastball was consistent at 97, so was the sinker at 93.

But Scherzer gave up that first pitch leadoff home run ball to Curtis Granderson in the first inning, a fastball that according to one scout was, a mistake. “You don’t throw the leadoff hitter a fastball,” he said.  Recall it was Scherzer who struck out a record tying 20 Detroit Tigers in his last start and, he has had a problem giving up the long ball this season.

Two more home runs, a leadoff shot to right in the first inning from Curtis Granderson and another one to right off the bat of Michael Conforto in the sixth inning, off of Nationals ace Max Scherzer, showed the fight the Mets have after returning from a modest 4-7 west coast road trip.

“First time that’s ever happened to me, giving up the first pitch as a home run,” Scherzer said.

The two home run balls thrown were  the difference, Granderson and Michael Conforto were numbers 12 and 13, and the last time he was on the mound at Citi Field it was that no-hitter against the Mets.  It was also the first time this season that two opposing starters struck out 10 apiece.

‘It’s just one of those outings where when you lose, it’s always frustrating because you go back and think how you can pitch better,” Scherzer said. “At the end of the day, I did pitch well, just not good enough.”

There is a real possibility that they will match up again.  And by that time, the games in the division will be more significant, though Collins was asked pregame about the importance of this series and eluded to tomorrow being just as important as is Thursday, and then the three games with Milwaukee this weekend.

First place could change places the next few days with these two teams. The Mets and Nationals are aware it is early, and that every game with two of the elite teams in the division will have that energy of a pennant race.

Bartolo Colon gets the start Wednesday night for New York and lefthander Gio Gonzalez with an ERA that is sixth best in the National League, (1.93) and 10th overall in baseball takes the mound for Washington.  It won’t be Syndergaard dueling Scherzer but it will be the Mets against the Nationals and at this juncture of the season considered as important.

Important of course for both teams?  At the end of September the 19-games they have against each other could mean who takes the division.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso

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