Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor homered, while Max Scherzer defeated his former team on Monday as the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 7-3 for their seventh consecutive victory on the eve of ace Jacob deGrom’s season debut.
Washington slugger Juan Soto homered off Scherzer in what could be his final game with the Nationals.
Soto, who walked in his other three plate appearances, is perhaps the biggest star who could be dealt before yesterday’s trade deadline.
“I feel good where I’m at,” Soto said. “I understand it’s a business and they need to do whatever they need to do. I’m just another player, another employee here like [former teammate Ryan Zimmerman] used to say.”
Several other teammates could also leave Washington as the Nationals, who own the MLB’s worst record at 35-69 and have lost four of five, look to sell for the second straight year.
The first-place Mets could acquire some more pieces at deadline, but their biggest addition will likely be deGrom. The two-time National League Cy Young Award winner shut down in spring training with a stress reaction in his right scapula, has not pitched in the majors since July last year and was to come off the injured list yesterday.
He missed the second half of last season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow.
Regardless of any potential moves, New York had more than enough to handle Patrick Corbin (4-15) and the Nationals.
Jeff McNeil, Tomas Nido and Starling Marte all had RBI singles in the second inning, while Alonso lined his 27th homer into left field an inning later.
Alonso’s homer was the fifth of his career against Corbin, the most against any pitcher.
Lindor added a three-run drive in the sixth off reliever Steve Cishek as New York improved to 9-2 this season against Washington.
Cishek hit Lindor in the face with a pitch on April 8, leading to a bench-clearing scuffle — an experience that weighed on Lindor.
“It hasn’t been comfortable since I got hit,” Lindor said. “The last at-bat against him, I struck out. Today, he hit Marte and all I was saying was: ‘Please don’t hit me.’ The first pitch was inside and it made me very, very uncomfortable. I was scared, but thank god I was able to put a good swing and it went out. I was very happy — number one because I made it through the at-bat and number two because I helped the team.”
Scherzer (7-2) won two Cy Young Awards with Washington, made six All-Star appearances in seven seasons and helped the Nationals win the 2019 World Series before getting dealt to the Dodgers at last year’s trade deadline. He allowed three runs (two earned) in 6-2/3 innings and struck out five while throwing a season-high 105 pitches.
“Command-wise, he wasn’t normally where he’s spoiled us at,” New York manager Buck Showalter said. “To be able to compete through that was something to watch. I kind of enjoy those in a way. They kind of remind me of why guys like him are different.”
Scherzer is 2-1 with a 1.62 ERA in six starts since returning from the injured list on July 5.
Soto, a two-time All-Star and one of the few pivotal pieces remaining from Washington’s 2019 title team, was applauded loudly throughout the night.
He walked in the first, moved to third on Josh Bell’s double and scored on Marte’s throwing error from right field. Soto also belted Scherzer’s pitch in the fourth to center field for his 21st homer of the season and 119th with the Nationals.
“It means a lot,” Soto said of the fan reaction. “It kind of feels weird, too, because nothing’s happened yet. We’re still waiting. It’s kind of cool at the same time, but it’s kind of weird, too.”
Corbin, who leads the majors in losses, allowed four runs and seven hits in 4-1/3 innings while striking out four.
Elsewhere, the Reds mastered the Marlins 3-1, the Yankees sank the Mariners 7-2, the Orioles routed the Rangers 7-2, the Royals downed the White Sox 2-1, the Red Sox edged the Astros 3-2, the Dodgers felled the Giants 8-2, the Padres pummeled the Rockies 4-1, the Twins tamed the Tigers 5-3 in 10 innings and the Guardians ground down the Diamondbacks 6-5 in 11 innings.
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