Right-hander Max Scherzer will make a rare appearance at one of the many sites of his postseason success when he tries to pitch the visiting New York Mets to a series win over the Athletics on Sunday afternoon in Oakland.
The first two head-to-heads of the season between the team with the second-best record in the National League (96-57) and the one with the worst record in the American League (56-96) were blowouts, with the Mets taking the opener 9-2 on Friday before the A’s shocked Jacob deGrom in a 10-4 shellacking in the rematch.
Suffice it to say, Oakland manager Mark Kotsay would like to see more of the same as Saturday’s performance as his team continues a fight to avoid a 100-loss season.
“This was one of the best games we’ve played all year as a team,” he said. “We wanted to come out swinging (against deGrom). We had a day where we probably had the best at-bats we’ve taken in a game throughout a game — and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
To duplicate the feat — or even come close to it — the A’s will have to do it against a pitcher who’s on quite a roll. Scherzer (10-4, 2.15 ERA) didn’t allow a hit and struck out nine over six innings in his most recent start, a7-2 road win over the Milwaukee Brewers last Monday.
When he takes the mound in the series finale, he will be on a run of having thrown hit less ball over his past 8 2/3 innings and a scoreless ball over his past 10 2/3 frames.
The 38-year-old will be making his eighth career regular-season start against the A’s, having gone 2-1 with a 4.75 ERA in the first seven, the most recent of which came on May 27, 2014, for the Detroit Tigers. The two wins equal the fewest he has against any of baseball’s 30 teams, tied with the Tigers and Colorado Rockies.
He’s made just four previous regular-season starts in Oakland, going 1-1 with a 5.01 ERA. He’s also made another two appearances there in the post season while with the Tigers, including a Game 1 win in the 2013 American League Division Series, which Detroit went on to win.
The veteran may pitch, as deGrom did Saturday, without his two top center fielders available. The Mets have been without Starling Marte, who played brilliantly for the A’s over the second half of 2021, since September 6 with a fractured right middle finger, then lost Brandon Nimmo when he was pulled from Wednesday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers with tightness in his right quad.
Nimmo is day-to-day and he said he won’t rush back and risk further injury until a time and place when it’s crucial he plays.
“I’m just a lot more valuable to this team when I am mostly healthy and am able to try and get on base and play center field,” he insisted. “But we are getting to that point in the season where I can kind of let things rip a little more.”
The Mets will take their hacks Sunday against A’s rookie lefty JP Sears (6-2,3.58), who limited the Seattle Mariners to one hit and one unearned run in his most recent start Tuesday in a 4-1 home win.
Sears, who started the season with the New York Yankees, has never faced the Mets.