Not quite "Maximum" Scherzer, Apple TV+ buzz and more hit-by-pitch drama
Max Scherzer doesn't dominate but wins in his debut. Plus, some words on Buck Showalter and the Mets finally sticking up for themselves.
What’s Up with the Mets? ⚾️
The Mets (2-0) defeated the Nationals (0-2) by a score of 7-3 in Washington on Friday (box)
SS Francisco Lindor exited the game after being hit by a pitch in the head, but x-rays and concussion tests were negative
RHP Max Scherzer made his debut with the club, allowing three runs over six innings with six strikeouts
2B Jeff McNeil celebrated his 30th birthday by going 3-for-4 with a home run (1), two RBI, a walk and two runs scored
OF Starling Marte drove in three runs on two hits in the victory
The Mets are 9-for-25 (.360) with runners in scoring position to start the season
Edwin Díaz is heading home to Puerto Rico following the death of his grandfather
New York will look for it’s first 3-0 start since the 2012 season
Roster Moves 📰
2B Travis Blankenhorn cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse
Mark Canha and Jeff McNeil have reached base six times and combined for four of the 12 runs the club has scored in the first two games of this series
Robinson Canó is 3-for-7 with two RBI in this series
Starling Marte has driven in four runs and hasn’t struck out in his first ten plate appearances of the season
Today’s Game 🗓
Match-up: Mets (2-0) at Nationals (0-2)
Where: Nationals Park — Washington, DC
Starters: Chris Bassitt (Mets debut) vs. Joan Adon
When: 7:05 PM EDT
Where to Watch: SNY
Breaking down a wild night in D.C. 📝
Between a light delay, high-profile team debuts, more hit-by-pitches, a rain delay and hot takes about exclusive broadcasts, last night’s game in Washington left a lot to talk about. I did my best to unpack it all…
Sh*t Show at the Buck Factory
These ain’t the Mets you remember. After three Mets were drilled on Opening Day (two in the head area), Francisco Lindor joined the club in the 5th inning on Friday night when he was hit in the head by a Steve Cishek pitch.
In years past, this may have been a moment where the Mets didn’t show much other than concern for their player. But not this year. After Buck Showalter looked as if he was on the brink of leaping out of the dugout after Pete Alonso was plunked on Thursday, the club’s new manager stormed out onto the field the moment Lindor took one himself. No, Chris Young, it didn’t matter that these HBPs were unintentional — but we’ll get to that in a minute — it is about sticking up for your players and letting the other teams that you’re not going to put up with it.
The Mets were right to be pissed off. They’ve been getting drilled for years, more than almost every other team in the league, and haven’t done or said all that much about it. But that all seems to be different now. Gone are the times where José Alvarado could challenge this team to a fight without anybody doing anything about it. Buck isn’t going to let that nonsense happen anymore, and something tells me the players won’t, either. Starling Marte showed that himself in the opening game of the season, yelling and gesturing toward the Washington dugout after the third HBP of the night.
If you can’t pitch inside, don’t throw inside. And if you hit our players, you’re sure as hell gonna hear about it. That’s the attitude of this team now and honestly, it’s refreshing. As Ron Darling said on Thursday night’s telecast, “It’d be nice to play angry all season.”
Cishek was ultimately ejected for hitting Lindor. The Mets, at this point, have not retaliated.
Not “Maximum” Scherzer, but Still Damn Good
Friday night’s Mets debut for Max Scherzer was not a prototypical start for him. He struggled with his grip and command, at times spiking his breaking pitches or losing control within the strike zone. His fastball, in particular, was not the pitch we’d normally expect it to be — in the fourth he missed one right down the middle, resulting in a game-tying, two-run home home run courtesy of Josh Bell. In fact, Scherzer generated zero swings-and-misses on his four-seam fastballs last night, the first time that’s happened since May 3, 2010 (via David Adler/Statcast).
The lack of crackle and sizzle on his fastball may be due to several factors, specifically coming back from a hamstring tweak earlier in the week, it being his first start of the regular season and pitching in colder April weather.
Despite all of that, though, he managed to grit out six quality innings. How? Because he’s Max Effing Scherzer.
“It went pretty well, considering what I was having to battle through,” Scherzer said after the game. “Over the years, many countless times where you're out there and you're not 100% and you've got to just pitch within yourself and not go too hard and pitch through it. You can pitch around injuries, and tonight was one of 'em.”
This is what the Mets got when they signed the future Hall of Famer to a record three-year contract this past offseason. He’s a bulldog, a gamer, a fierce competitor. Even on the nights where he doesn’t have his A+ stuff, which is not that often to begin with, he’s going to give your team a performance that gives your team an opportunity to win the ballgame.
And that’s what he did on Friday in D.C. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t dominant, but it was good enough. And that’s only just the beginning for him.
Fine, Lets Talk About Apple TV+
I wasn’t sure I was going to even talk about this but it became such a domineering talking point throughout the game last night so I’d be remiss if I didn’t say anything here. Let’s talk about the Apple TV+ of it all…
As you likely know, last night’s Mets game was not on SNY, but instead was the inaugural baseball broadcast on Apple’s streaming service. This was met to… unfavorable responses from fans everywhere from the moment it was announced and even moreso once the game began. So here’s my review of the broadcast in it’s totality.
I thought the booth was a mixed bag. Not nearly as bad as many hyperbolic fans made it out to be, but certainly not good enough to justify the lack of the local broadcasts, either. Play-by-play announcer Melanie Newman showed a lot of promise and she clearly has a future in this industry, even if her performance was up-and-down at times. Chris Young — who went on a diatribe for several innings about how pitchers shouldn’t get ejected for repeatedly hitting people in the head if its not intentional — I’m not as sure of, at least in this specific booth construction. What didn’t work for this crew was its general lack of chemistry together and experience as a whole, and I feel as if Newman would benefit a lot more from of a veteran color analyst to help guide things when needed. At times there was a bit too much talking — likely due to it being their first real broadcast together — when the broadcast could have benefitted from some longer beats, especially at later points during the game.
Overall, I do think there is some promise here, but there’s clearly work to be done. Another thing I’ll say is that I wish we could be fair with the criticism here rather than with overly dramatic statements like ‘Apple TV+ is ruining baseball,’ a thing that an actual local radio host tweeted, or that women in general shouldn’t be doing play-by-play or involved in sports and you’re “woke” if you disagree. Honestly, you lose me with that garbage and it’s impossible to take you seriously. And if you’re gonna rip on broadcaster like Newman as harshly as some were last night, you’d better stay consistent when watching other nationally televised games or other local market broadcasts. Enough said on that.
Visually, this is where the broadcast shined. The graphics package was essentially just Apple branding repurposed into a baseball broadcast, but it worked for me. I’m just a sucker for clean, minimalist bugs on sports telecasts. I probably didn’t need the constantly updating probability odds graphics on the bottom right-hand side of the screen throughout the entire game, but maybe that’s just me. And the resolution… yeah, that was noticeably better than most baseball games you’ll ever watch. It appeared this was being broadcast in 4K (assuming you were using a 4K device), as opposed to the normal 1080p resolution you’ll see on most broadcasts on cable or via MLB.tv. The picture was crisp, the colors popped and the close-up shots were on point. I mean, just look at this slow-motion shot of Pete Alonso swinging in the rain. Gorgeous.
The only other thing I’d say was notable is some technical issues like the feed cutting out completely and having to restart the app or some people complaining about the audio being out of sync with the video.
So, while there are some promising elements to the broadcast, the overall experience was just not worth the loss of SNY for Mets fans or the exclusivity of it all. Some of these things will likely improve over time, so I’ll be curious how that evolves, but for now I’d rate this experience at about a 4.5/10. Not as good as top-tier broadcasts, and at some point it will no longer be free, but hey, at least it wasn’t Sunday Night Baseball…
Around the League 🚩
The Yankees and OF Aaron Judge did not reach an extension by their Opening Day deadline and he will become a free agent at season’s end
3B Josh Donaldson hit a walk-off single in extra innings, giving the Yankees their first walk-off win on Opening Day since 1957
LHP Sean Manaea took a no-hitter into the 8th inning before the bullpen surrendered a knock in the Padres’ 3-0 win vs the Dbacks
The Giants overcame a 9th inning deficit, walking off the Marlins with a 6-5 victory (their first walk-off in a home opener since 1987)
DH Kyle Schwarber hit a leadoff home run in the Phillies’ 9-5 win in their opener against the A’s
The Orioles officially signed former Mets RHP Matt Harvey to a minor league contract