Darvish dominates Mets again as Padres take playoff opener

AP Photo/John Minchillo
San Diego Padres starting pitcher Yu Darvish (11) delivers against the New York Mets during the first inning of Game 1 of a National League wild-card baseball playoff series, Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, in New York.

NEW YORK (AP) — Josh Bell and Manny Machado smashed two of San Diego’s four home runs off Max Scherzer, and the Padres romped past the New York Mets 7-1 on Friday night in their playoff opener.

Yu Darvish shut down the Mets once again, and San Diego also got long balls from leadoff batter Jurickson Profar and slumping Trent Grisham against an ineffective Scherzer — booed off the mound in the fifth inning at Citi Field.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner exited his first postseason start for New York down 7-0, a massive disappointment after Scherzer was signed to a $130 million contract in December to pitch big games for his new team.

“Baseball can take you to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and this is one of the lowest of lows,” Scherzer said.

San Diego needs one win over the next two days to take the best-of-three National League wild-card series and advance to face the top-seeded Los Angeles Dodgers.

Blake Snell starts Saturday night in Game 2 against scuffling Mets ace Jacob deGrom.

After winning 101 games during the regular season, second-most in franchise history, the Mets are suddenly facing elimination at home after falling flat before a sellout crowd of 41,621 in their first playoff game since 2016.

“It’s reality,” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s an opportunity, and we’ll get one tomorrow, to right the ship.”

Eduardo Escobar homered and doubled off Darvish, who has won all three of his starts against New York this year with a 0.86 ERA.

The star right-hander from Japan, coming off a 16-win season, was the NL pitcher of the month for September and picked up right where he left off. He wriggled out of trouble early when the game was still competitive and then settled in to throw seven innings of six-hit ball without a walk.

Darvish is 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA in eight career regular-season starts against the Mets, including 3-0 at Citi Field.

The 38-year-old Scherzer also lost a critical game last weekend in Atlanta, giving up nine hits — including two homers — and four runs over 5 2/3 innings. He missed about nine weeks this season during two stints on the injured list with left oblique injuries, but finished 11-5 with a 2.29 ERA and said Thursday he was fully healthy.

Scherzer had little snap on his pitches, though, and the Padres took advantage. Bell launched a two-run homer in the first in his initial postseason plate appearance for his first home run since Sept. 6.

Grisham, batting eighth after hitting .107 from Sept. 1 on, connected for a solo shot in the second. Profar made it 6-0 with a three-run drive in the fifth, and Machado sent a laser over the left-field fence two batters later.

“My fastball was running on me,” Scherzer said.

It was the fourth time Scherzer allowed four home runs in a game, his career high.


Padres: Darvish was visited on the mound by manager Bob Melvin and an athletic trainer following Escobar’s double in the seventh, but stayed in the game. … After not feeling well the past few days, RHP Mike Clevinger was left off the series roster in favor of adding LHP Sean Manaea to the bullpen instead. Clevinger took a late flight Thursday to New York, separate from the team, following a negative COVID-19 test. “I think he’s feeling a little better now,” Melvin said Friday. “I felt like another lefty with a little length down there was important.”

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte batted sixth in his first game back from a broken middle finger on his right (throwing) hand. He was injured Sept. 6 when he was hit by a pitch in Pittsburgh. With his middle finger wrapped, Marte received a loud ovation during pregame introductions. He grounded a single up the middle leading off the second and then stole second and third — sliding headfirst into both bases.