Max Scherzer was a winner in his Mets debut, allowing three runs on three hits with six strikeouts over six innings against his former club while Starling Marte drove in three runs in a 7-3 New York victory over the Nationals on Friday night as tensions continued to rise following erratic Washington pitching.
Benches cleared in the fifth inning with the Mets up 4-3 when Francisco Lindor was hit in the c-flap of his helmet by reliever Steve Cishek. It was the fourth time a New York batter was hit in the opening two games – James McCann getting plunked twice before Pete Alonso took a pitch to the mouth on opening night.
Manager Buck Showalter, in just his second game as skipper, led the charge out of the dugout as a crowd with near the pitcher’s mound. While it remained relatively timid, Cishek was ejected from the game while Lindor – who was shaken up – did not return. X-rays on his jaw came back negative and he passed concussion testing.
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For a second-straight year, Jeff McNeil homered on his birthday, hooking a solo shot inside the right-field foul pole and into the seats in the third inning to draw level after the Nationals took the lead through a Yadiel Hernandez sacrifice fly.
Robinson Cano put the Mets ahead 3-1 with a two-RBI single in the fourth, but Josh Bell provided an immediate answer, taking Scherzer deep for a two-run shot to tie the game at the bottom of the frame.
Brandon Nimmo led off the fifth inning with a triple and came in to score on a Marte double to give the Mets the lead, running Josiah Gray from the game for Cishek. The first and only batter he faced was Lindor, as he delivered an 89-mph fastball high and tight that caught Lindor – who was squaring up to bunt – and sparked the clearing of benches.
Benches clear after Francisco Lindor is hit by a pitch. He is the fourth Mets batter hit in 14 innings.
– FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 9, 2022
While the Mets missed out on tacking on insurance after things settled down in the fifth, Marte came through in the sixth with a two-out, two-run single to give the Mets a three-run lead.
For a team that ranked 28th in the majors last year with a .204 batting average with runners in scoring position and two outs, Marte’s big single bumped the Mets’ production in such situations this year to 4-for-7.
Meanwhile, Scherzer – who spent seven years with the Nationals – settled after the Bell home run, retiring eight of the next nine batters he faced to get through six innings at 80 pitches.
After Pete Alonso’s lead-off double in the ninth and the subsequent 30-minute rain delay, McNeil picked up his second RBI of the night with a two-out single to make it seven for the visitors.