Undone by errors, Scherzer, Nats lose opener to Mets 3-1
WASHINGTON (AP) — There was a lot going on for Max Scherzer on Monday. His first opening-day start in the majors, his first game for the Washington Nationals, his first chance to begin earning that $210 million contract.
“My adrenaline was flowing,” Scherzer acknowledged. “Let’s just say that.”
Pitching “as advertised,” to use Nationals manager Matt Williams’ phrasing, Scherzer took a no-hitter into the sixth inning but was unable to overcome two costly errors by shortstop Ian Desmond, and the Nationals lost 3-1 to the New York Mets.
At 41 the oldest opening-day starter in the majors since 2006, Bartolo Colon (1-0) pitched six clean innings for the Mets, the only damage being Bryce Harper’s homer that made it 1-0 in the fourth. Lucas Duda’s two-run single with two outs in the sixth off a 98 mph pitch from Scherzer put New York ahead with its first hit of the season.
“That,” Scherzer said, “was my best fastball of the day.”
“We’re lucky we caught a break right there,” he said.
Before the game, Duda and general manager Sandy Alderson said they were unable to come to an agreement on a long-term contract.
Scherzer (0-1) was in total control until the sixth, retiring 17 batters in a row between a pair of walks to Curtis Granderson. But that’s when David Wright hit a popup toward the grass beyond the infield dirt between first and second.
Dan Uggla, starting at second base because three everyday Nationals are on the disabled list, settled under the ball and tried to call off Desmond, who moved over and tried to make the play. The ball hit the edge of his glove and dropped.
“That was pretty embarrassing,” said Desmond, whose throwing error in the seventh led to another unearned run. “I felt like one of those Little Leaguers. ... Should have just let him have it.”
“It was Desi (being) a little bit overzealous,” Williams said. “I think Danny can catch that ball for sure.”
Scherzer, the 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner for Detroit, stormed off the mound and screamed after that miscue. He wound up giving up four hits in 7 2-3 innings, and all three runs off him were unearned.
“Aw, man, you know it’s great to see out of Scherzer. He threw an unbelievable game. Definitely wanted to get that win for him,” said Harper, who homered twice on opening day in 2013. “But sometimes the ball doesn’t roll your way.”
Four relievers followed Colon, with 37-year-old Buddy Carlyle getting two outs for his first career save. New York closer Jenrry Mejia was unavailable due to a tight elbow.
Mets: Mejia’s elbow tightened while he was warming up for the ninth. The team said Mejia will fly to New York on Tuesday to be examined by Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek. Mejia went 6-6 with 28 saves last season.
Nationals: LF Jayson Werth, 3B Anthony Rendon and CF Denard Span are on the disabled list. ... Span ran in the outfield before the game and plans to participate in a scrimmage Tuesday.
Werth drew chuckles by knocking over Nationals mascot Screech during pregame introductions. In the past, Werth has gone out of his way to avoid high-fiving the oversized bird. “This time, I gave him a double-five,” Werth said with a smile.
Before the game, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Nationals Park will host the 2018 All-Star Game. It’ll be the fourth year in a row an NL city hosts.
Mets: After Tuesday’s day off, RHP Jacob deGrom, the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, takes the mound Wednesday. He made one start against Washington last season, a no-decision in August. Desmond went 2 for 3 with a homer off him.
Nationals: RHP Jordan Zimmermann aims to pick up where he left off six months ago, when he threw a no-hitter in the regular-season finale and then went 8 2-3 innings in Game 2 of the NLDS against San Francisco.
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