WASHINGTON -- Nationals fans gave Max Scherzer a round of applause Friday night when he took the mound for his first start against his former team since being traded a little over eight months ago. He then rewarded them by leading the division-rival New York Mets to a 7-3 win over Washington.
Scherzer signed a three-year, $144 million deal with the Mets in free agency last winter to join Jacob deGrom atop their rotation. While deGrom was forced to miss the start of the season with a stress reaction in his right scapula, Scherzer made his regularly scheduled start in Game 2 of their opening series against the Nationals and didn’t disappoint.
The right-hander allowed three runs over six innings on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. He didn’t go unscathed, allowing the Nationals to manufacture a run in the second inning and serving up a two-run home run off the bat of first baseman Josh Bell in the fourth. Statcast estimated the ball traveled 443 feet, a no-doubter Scherzer knew was gone without even looking.
New York chased starter Josiah Gray, who the Nationals acquired in the trade that sent Scherzer to the Los Angeles Dodgers, from the game in the fifth. Manager Davey Martinez then called in veteran reliever Steve Cishek from the bullpen to make his first career appearance in a Nationals uniform.
Cishek promptly hit Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor in the face as he squared around to bunt on his second pitch, sending him to the dirt. Both benches cleared and Cishek was held back by catcher Keibert Ruiz. Cishek was ejected by the umpires for walking toward the Mets' dugout and escalating the situation, crew chief Mark Carlson said after the game. Nationals third base coach Gary DiSarcina was ejected for "aggressive behavior during the bench-clearing" as well.
"My first intention was to go over there and see if he was OK and when I was doing that, realized it was a bad idea because I just kinda fired up the bench a little bit on the other side," Cishek said.
"Obviously, there was no intent...but I understand that they had a decision to make and it's out of my control and so it was unfortunate. I thought I was going to have a warning for sure but to be ejected was a bit of a surprise and I didn't mean anything by it."
Lindor left the game but X-rays came back negative and he passed all concussion tests. Cishek tracked him down following the contest and apologized to him in person. the shortstop was the fourth Met to be hit by a pitch in the series, and the third to take a ball up and in.
First baseman Pete Alonso exited Thursday night’s game with a bloody lip after Mason Thompson hit him in the shoulder with a fastball that deflected into the extended ear flap on his helmet. He reported no serious injuries and returned to the lineup Friday.
With the loss, the Nationals fell to 0-2 on the young season. Rookie starter Joan Adon will take the ball against Mets starter Chris Bassitt on Saturday before Erick Fedde and Carlos Carrasco go head to head in the series finale Sunday.