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Drew Smith was responsible for only one run earned run Friday night, but it turned out to be a killer.

After being handed the ball following starter Max Scherzer’s stellar 7-inning, 1-run outing, Smith walked the first two batters of the eighth inning. He then gave up a single to Ty France, allowing the Seattle Mariners (15-18) to pull ahead for a 2-1 win.

Smith walked off the field after retiring his last three batters of the inning head down and visibly disappointed. The damage was done.

The Mets’ (22-12) next chance at tying it up again came the bottom of the inning off a ball that left Pete Alonso’s bat at 103 miles per hour but died at the warning track. Alonso took off his helmet after rounding first base, equal parts frustrated and perplexed.

It was a much different mood for the Mets just one inning prior, when Scherzer screamed in celebration as he escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh.

Mariners’ manager Scott Servais joked about what his batters were told about hitting against Scherzer.

“Don’t look at the brown eye,” he said with a chuckle. Maybe they did it. Maybe they didn’t.

Scherzer easily did away with his first 10 batters on Japanese Heritage Night at Citi Field before he briefly slipped up.

Scherzer retired a total of 19 batters, including six strikeouts and two hit batters. He gave up one earned run on three hits and issued two walks over seven innings and 98 pitches on Thursday. It was the first time he hit two batters in one game since July 8, 2021, when he was still with the Nationals.

In the fourth inning, Scherzer plunked France with his four-seam fastball, drawing audible gasps from the home crowd. His second mistake was the single he gave up to his very next batter, J.P. Crawford, who entered the game with a lofty .953 OPS. That fourth inning got a little messier for Scherzer, when he gave up another single, this time to his fifth batter of the inning, Jesse Winker, which allowed France to score and tie the game 1-1.

He got into a little trouble again in the seventh when he loaded the bases after giving up a single to Eugenio Suarez and walking Winker and Ford. But he got his final batter of the inning, Steven Souza Jr. to ground into a double play, closing the inning without another Mariner scoring, and he was able to walk away to ravenous cheers from the Mets faithful.


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Its David Petersons time to shine

The Mets suffered several losses over the weekend.

They lost two of their three games against the Mariners. Those pair of L’s gave them their first series loss of the year. On top of that, breakout sensation Tylor Megill went on the 15-day injured list with inflammation in his right biceps.

While the MRI on Megill’s arm came back “really well” and the towering right-hander is “not too worried,” it’s still a fairly significant blow to the Mets. Already without Jacob deGrom, the Megill injury temporarily makes the rotation even thinner. The team’s upcoming schedule — four games with the Cardinals, then a six-game road trip through Colorado and San Francisco — is completely against teams that entered Monday at .500 or better. It’s a critical early-season stretch for a team with cracks slightly beginning to show, and David Peterson figures to be an important part of it.

Peterson, the obvious candidate to come up from Triple-A, has enough juice to hold down Megill’s rotation spot for the time being. He struck out more than a batter per inning in 15 starts last season, and in his four appearances for the Mets this year, he ran a 1.89 ERA and held opponents to a .191 average. Peterson represents the exact type of organizational depth that every team covets. But like with any inexperienced pitcher — despite playing in parts of three big-league seasons, Peterson still has only thrown 135.1 innings — consistency has been a struggle.

In 2021, Peterson’s game log included a dominant outing against the 100-win Rays, who he flummoxed for 7.1 innings, nine strikeouts, and two earned runs. It also shows three separate occasions where the Orioles and Diamondbacks (two teams that were major league in name only) knocked him out in the third inning or earlier. He also followed up a three-hit, six-inning gem against the Phillies by taking the ball for a game where the Braves hung 20 runs on the Mets. That volcanic blowout ended up being his last game before season-ending oblique and foot injuries.

Peterson has a relatable problem for any player who yo-yo’s between the minors and the big club. In order to stick at the highest level, he needs to get consistent reps there to figure out what does and doesn’t work. But when he’s gotten those opportunities in the past, injuries or minor league send downs have robbed him of a chance for more stability. Getting the chance to fail in Major League Baseball is typically a sign of a team investing in a young player for the long haul, as failure is often the best teacher, and signifies that they’ll tolerate a few rough days now for sustained success in the future.

Since he last graced an MLB mound, Peterson has put together an 11-inning scoreless streak at Triple-A. Most recently, he spun six shutout innings with three hits and six K’s. The 26-year-old is clearly a Triple-A ace, but the Mets just need him to be a fifth starter in the bigs. With Trevor Williams — a true long reliever and Monday’s spot starter — on the squad, the Mets can also afford to give Peterson a short leash. Going max effort for three or four innings, handing the ball to Williams, and letting him bridge the gap to the late-inning guys is both a practical and doable strategy.

Peterson most likely lines up for a Saturday start in Denver, just 22 miles from his high school campus. A graduate of Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, CO, Peterson has never pitched a professional game at Coors Field. While the Rockies haven’t wreaked their usual havoc on enemy pitchers yet, there’s a chance they’ll get Kris Bryant back from the injured list for the weekend series. C.J. Cron, who is tied for the National League lead in home runs, is also slugging .639 against lefties so far.

Whatever hometown happiness Peterson may feel could quickly evaporate into Colorado’s thin air if his changeup and sinker don’t come with him. Those are the southpaw’s two main secondary pitches against right-handed hitters, and neither of them have produced a strikeout against righties in his limited 2022 sample size.

The Mets are far from doomed, but this is a part of the schedule where a 5.5-game lead in the division can shrink to 2.5. How Peterson handles the Rockies and Giants could have implications on the Mets’ record, but those presumed starts could also determine how the Mets utilize Peterson for the rest of the season. He’ll have minor league options remaining, meaning the team can continue to stash him in Syracuse once they don’t need him anymore. But if he excels, keeping him on the roster once Megill is back wouldn’t be out of the question, as Peterson could take one of the bullpen spots currently going to filler guys Jake Reed and Colin Holderman.

Worrying about a back end of the rotation guy — on a team that’s 23-13 with Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt and Carlos Carrasco at the front of said rotation — is a luxury. There are other teams with much bigger, much scarier issues than what the Mets are facing. But as we’ve seen time and time again in this league, one or two bad weeks have a tendency to snowball.

Number one starters are frequently asked to be “stoppers,” or put a stop to losing streaks before they get out of control. Peterson doesn’t need to be that, he just needs to be the baseball equivalent of a quarterback who manages the game. Stay away from any big mistakes, keep the team in the game, and who knows? Maybe we’ll be looking up in September and realize that Peterson never went back to Syracuse after those couple of good fill-in outings in May.


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