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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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One in a Million Max

You’d prefer a win. No doubt about it, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you’d look at a 1-0 loss and gnash your teeth. The hundredth, you’d gnash a little, then grit them, then take a deep breath, then rub your eyes, then take in the image at the center of the bigger picture.

Max Scherzer went six innings in his return from an oblique injury Tuesday night, expertly mixed fastballs and sliders, gave up two singles, walked nobody, hit one batter and struck out eleven.

That’s an image that will carry you past a 1-0 loss in Cincinnati. That’s an image that will eclipse your disgust at the Mets managing fewer runs off five Red pitchers than the Reds did off Scherzer, Joely Rodriguez, Tommy Hunter and, ultimately, Seth Lugo, the only hurler on either side who clearly didn’t succeed. Lugo, who gave up the game’s lone run in the bottom of the ninth, was not alone among Mets contributing to your dentist’s askance glances come your next checkup. Starling Marte was an on-base machine (two hits, two walks) and Mark Canha went two-for-four, but nobody else in the lineup did anything terribly useful, which is definitely a drag. Gnash away if that’s where your emotions take your teeth.

Yet Max Scherzer did everything he could after being missing from action for nearly seven weeks. I guess he could’ve gone longer than six innings — so did Max, judging from his expression in the dugout after he was told he was done — but he’d been out too long to take too many chances. Now he’s as back as we could have hoped for. He looked great, he says he feels great and we have him for the second half that begins tonight.

On May 18, the night Max matter-of-factly announced no mas, the Mets elevated their record to 25-14. At the halfway point of the season it’s 50-31, indicating the club held its own in the Scherzerless interregnum. They won 25 games with Max, 25 games without him. They went 16-10 when the three established mostly healthy starters — Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco and Chris Bassitt — took the ball and held the fort. They didn’t play the Braves at all. By next week, when they visit Cobb County, the Mets will have the opportunity to fend off their closest rivals with a much-bolstered rotation. Scherzer is not on track to pitch in that series, but he will pitch twice before the All-Star break. And he’ll pitch after it. Every start Max Scherzer makes is one an inevitably lesser pitcher doesn’t. The effect can’t help but elevate the entire staff and the entire team. Bulletins regarding the co-ace’s progress on the IL and plans for his rehab are no longer in the news. Ruminations on the ups and downs of identifying as a Rumble Pony will emanate from somebody else. When you see Scherzer’s name, it will be because he’s pitching for the Mets.

Did we mention Max is back? That’s the news. The very good news. More to come.

12 comments to One in a Million Max

  • Agreed. I felt as good about a loss as I could have. See Max on the mound was a healing moment. Tomorrow, I head to Citifield to celebrate the 60th anniversary of my first game … albeit a day off. July 8, 1962 my dad took me to the Polo Grounds (a 15-1 loss to the Cardinals … Stan Musial hitting three home runs) and the die was cast. I believe in Buck to do the right things, to say the right things, maybe a mistake or two but the club is in good hands. Feeling good!

  • Eric

    It’s good that Scherzer didn’t reaggravate the injury. Hopefully he’ll be allowed to pitch the extra inning-plus next time.

    Otherwise, frustrating. The Braves stayed hot and the Phillies kept pace while Scherzer was deGromed. RISP LOB again, but this time against a bullpen and in a park that should not have been able to do that. Lugo is apparently incapable of pitching 2 games in a row.

    The Mets are looking vulnerable and ripe for the picking right now.

  • Seth

    My disgust is un-eclipsed, because 1-0 or 20-0, the result in the L column is the same, with the disturbing recent trends on full display last night.

  • Jacobs27

    I think my favorite AB was Papierski’s to end the 5th. Knee-buckling curveball grazes the bottom of the zone. Fastball down the middle clearly surprises him. Changeup waved at for strike three. It’s worth rewatching just for the poor guy’s facial expressions. Worth a million words.

  • Dave

    As luck would have it, my next dentist appointment is today at 5:00, so the gnashing prompted by last night’s game will be addressed from a dental perspective, if not so much from a “damn it, we need to bring in a legit rbi guy to be the full-time DH” perspective. My dentist not only can’t help there, he’s a fan of the team in the Bronx, so even if rbi’s were among his skill set, he might not be interested in helping. But I guess my teeth should be OK.

  • eric1973

    Maximillion sure is one in a million!

    Joom-ka! Joom-ka!

    Dave, my dentist is a Yankee fan, too. Probably one of the few cool ones you can find.

  • eric1973

    Uh-oh, my Odd Couple foreign language reference may have been censored.

  • Bob

    GREAT seeing Scherzer pitch as well as he did–whew!

    But Mets lineup not able to score VS worst pitching in MLB-30th
    of 30 teams.
    Reds have team ERA of 5.45 and have given up most ER in MLB…

    Well–Let’s Go Mets tonight!

  • […] and went only 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. It was better than what they produced in the 1-0 loss to the lowly Reds, but you wouldn’t presume to find it sufficient to beat the defending world champion […]