As it turns out, Yu Darvish and Eric Hosmer can still win you a ballgame.
The Padres duo — one on the pitcher’s mound, the other Manning at first base and hitting the opening home run — joined forces to lead San Diego to a 4-1 win over the Mets on Friday night.
Darvish, whose best years in Major League Baseball came back in 2012 and 2013, stood like a man who had just enjoyed several days off. Making his first start since the All-Star break, Darvish pitched the Mets’ lineup through seven innings, allowing four hits and one run.
“Give Darvish credit tonight,” praised Max Scherzer. “He played really well. He was playing fast innings. It was kind of a possession thing, where I was grinding the first three innings and he was very effective. It’s a tough situation to be in. I Love being on the other side of it.
“He had five or six pitches working,” observed Buck Showalter. “We had to defend them all.”
That night in Flushing, Matt was disturbed by each of Darvish’s offerings. Swing after swing came up empty as Darvish kept the ball off the Mets’ barrel, often missing their bat completely. It was a vintage performance from the 35-year-old, and Darvish wasn’t the only Padre to work some old magic.
Mets fans will never forget Hosmer. His beard, his smile, his brooding demeanor that often reads as arrogance. Hosmer was the one who rounded home from third base in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series, daring Mets first baseman Lucas Duda to throw out. Duda’s throw, famously, sailed wide. Hosmer and the Royals, famously, won that game in extra innings, denying the Mets a chance at the title.
Friday’s regular-season game pales in comparison to that October night seven years ago, but the packed seats at Citi Field certainly shared some memories of Hosmer wearing royal blue. Now donning the brown and gold of the Padres, Hosmer ted a Scherzer hitter in the fourth inning, lining it over the left-center field wall for a two-run homer.
Hosmer had six RBIs in that 2015 World Series, but his two on Friday would be enough by themselves to beat the Mets, who were still looking to be on the day off. With two more hits from Scherzer (he also had a ringing double in the second inning), Hosmer is now 17-for-55 (.309) in his career against the future Hall of Famer.
Scherzer wasn’t bad by any means on Friday night. In fact, he was in control all evening, except for a fastball up the middle that Hosmer destroyed. He finished his start with eight strikeouts and 15 whiffs on 93 pitches. Darvish struck out nine during that stretch and at one point set down ten batters in a row.
The Mets’ chances of a comeback were much more difficult once their bullpen got involved. Joely Rodriguez, to his credit, should have started his night with a strikeout. Entering for Scherzer in the seventh inning, he tagged Trent Grisham on a beautiful 1-2 slider on the outside corner. Home plate umpire James Hoy did not appreciate its beauty as much as Rodriguez did and called it a ball. On the very next pitch, Grisham hit a solo home run to make it 3-0.
“James is a good umpire,” Showalter said later. “I know there were a lot of close pitches we’d like to get. It looked like three strikes before the home run. But [only scoring] A run really beats us.
On top of that, Tomas Nadu left the game with a strained left hand after crossing with Scherzer and taking a pitch directly to his wrist.
“We’ll see how he is tomorrow,” Showalter said. “He was pretty sore, just didn’t feel like he could swing the bat.”
Already without starting catcher James McCann, the Mets need another backstop injury like they need a hole in the head. X-rays on Nedo’s hand came back negative, but pulling it in the middle of a game is certainly less than ideal.
Now, for the good news, at least if you’re into baseball history. Scherzer passed Curt Schilling and Bob Gibson on the career strikeout list, moving into sole possession of 15th place.
“I’ll talk to Bob Gibson,” Scherzer said, flatly ignoring Schilling. “That was my dad’s favorite pitcher. I’m definitely going to give that ball to him. As a kid, growing up, he was one of my idols. I booked reports on him. So pass him on.” Doing is a big thing for me personally.
Next on the list is Scherzer’s former teammate Justin Verlander, who is now just three ahead of him. With both right-handers still going strong, their positioning on the all-time leaderboard will be a fun individual subplot for the rest of the season.
Friday night certainly wasn’t fun for the Mets, though, who have two more games against a tough San Diego team that injured icon Fernando Tates Jr. cheering from the dugout.
The Mets won’t have to see Darvish again, and they won’t have to worry about Tats until they see the Friars in the playoffs, but they want to spend more time game-planning for Hosmer.