Videos by OutKick
Seven weeks since facing his last batter, Max Scherzer was back in business for the New York Mets, facing off against the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night to mark his grand return.
Stepping on the big-league mound after being sidelined with a left-side oblique strain since May 18, Scherzer produced a six-inning showcase that resulted in a massive sigh of relief needed by Mets fans after a shaky 3-4 slide the past seven games, though most have certainly missed the pitcher for longer than that.
Mad Max’s fast start was a godsend to fans: recording 11 strikeouts — matching a season-high — and giving up only two hits in a scoreless spree after 79 pitches from Scherzer.
After an overall decent outing on the mound for Class AA Binghamton in his sole rehab start, Scherzer showed he was saving the best for the majors.
Scherzer broke the seal with a strikeout against Reds leadoff hitter Jonathan India with a piercing fastball.
The encouraging return was spoiled by the Reds’ win after a clumsy finish by Mets pitcher Seth Lugo.
Tied 0-0 in the bottom of the ninth, Lugo loaded the bases and allowed Cincinnati’s Mike Moustakas to knock a sacrifice fly to center field — bringing in a runner to seal the 1-0 home victory at Great American Ball Park.
In the post-game interview, Scherzer nudged Mets coaches to up his count after his healthy outing.
“I didn’t have any problems tonight,” Scherzer told reporters. “I felt good; I felt strong; I had nothing tighten up. I wanted to get to that 90 to 95 pitch count. They just didn’t want to send me out there for the seventh and I understand that.”
The heightened energy coming from the Mets with the soon-to-be-38-year-old ace healthy enough to take the mound, and Jacob deGrom also on his way out of rehab, was palpable.
“It’s nice having his persona back,” Mets manager Buck Showalter commented hours ahead of the contest. “Sometimes, that persona plays better when you’re contributing. So I think that’s what he’s looking for.”
As relayed by ESPN Stats, Tuesday’s performance became Scherzer’s 28th career game with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks — passing Curt Schilling for the second-highest in MLB history and now trailing Randy Johnson (36).
Scherzer also passed John Smoltz for 18th place on the all-time strikeout ranks with his 3,090th earned against Cincinnati.
New FanDuel Sportsbook users can make their first bet risk-free up to $1,000. If the bet loses, the FanDuel Sportsbook will refund you in site credit. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.
Follow along on Twitter:@AlejandroAveela