The Mets handed a future Hall of Famer a sizable lead for a second straight time.
For a second straight time, Max Scherzer could not hold it.
Scherzer allowed five runs in a game-changing fourth inning that he did not escape in an eventual 7-6 loss to the Yankees at Citi Field on Tuesday night.
“You can put the camera right on me,” Scherzer said after his ERA rose to 4.45. “I gotta be better.”
It was Scherzer’s second straight subpar start after he allowed five runs in 5 ²/₃ innings in a loss in Atlanta last Wednesday.
In that game, too, the Mets gave Scherzer a 4-1 lead entering the bottom of the fifth.
Scherzer was knocked out in the sixth with the Mets trailing, 5-4.
This time, the lead evaporated even quicker.
After allowing a first-inning home run to Giancarlo Stanton, Scherzer had appeared to settle in, and the Mets’ offense scored five runs before the fourth inning.
But in the top of the fourth, it all came apart. A struggling Yankees offense broke through, with six hits in seven batters, against one of the best pitchers of his era.
“I can’t remember the last time I was hanging that many sliders,” said Scherzer, whose slider drew nine swings, a lot of hard-hit balls and just one swing and miss.
In that fourth, Scherzer allowed a single to Anthony Rizzo before DJ LeMahieu blasted a long home run to left field. Isiah Kiner-Falefa reached on a bloop single, and with one out, Kyle Higashoka lined a single to left to move Kiner-Falefa to third.
With runners on the corners and one out, Scherzer could not escape further danger. Anthony Volpe doubled down the left-field line to knock in Kiner-Falefa before Jake Bauers drove in two with a single to right. The Mets’ lead was gone, and so was Scherzer, who was charged with six runs on seven hits in 3 ¹/₃ innings.
Scherzer’s velocity was there, but his slider was not. Four of his seven hits — including home runs to Stanton and LeMahieu — came off the slider.
“Every time I was throwing my slider, it was hanging,” said Scherzer, who did not give up a home run off his slider all of last season. “I wasn’t executing the way I needed to.”
Last season, opposing batters hit .183 against his slider. Entering play Tuesday, opposing batters were hitting .268 against it this year and now have homered five times.
“I gotta be better. We all gotta be better,” Scherzer said. “You’re gonna win, you’re gonna win as a team.”
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