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DeGrom-Scherzer Opening Day matchup lives up to billing

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On Tuesday, I highlighted a few of the Opening Day starting pitching matchups that piqued my interest. The first one was Mets-Nationals, which featured 2018 National League Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom squaring off against NL Cy Young runner-up Max Scherzer.

deGrom only won 10 games last year, but paced baseball with a 1.70 ERA along with a 269/46 K/BB ratio across 217 innings. The performance netted him 29 of 30 first-place votes. The right-hander also recently inked a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension with the Mets.

Scherzer, meanwhile, led baseball in innings pitched (220 2/3), strikeouts (300), complete games (two), and shutouts (one). He led the NL in wins (18), WHIP (0.911), and K/9 (12.2). 2018 marked his third consecutive year finishing first or second in Cy Young balloting, and his sixth consecutive top-five finish.

Both starters delivered on Opening Day on Thursday in D.C. deGrom got the best of Scherzer as the Mets won 2-0. deGrom tossed six shutout innings, limiting the Nationals to five hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts. Scherzer yielded two runs on two hits and three walks with 12 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. Second baseman Robinson Canó accounted for both of the Mets’ runs, lifting a solo home run in the top of the first inning and adding an RBI single in the eighth.

The other marquee matchup today also features Nos. 1 and 2 in AL Cy Young balloting: the Rays’ Blake Snell opposite the Astros’ Justin Verlander.

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Donaldson ejected for kicking dirt on plate after home run

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
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Minnesota’s Josh Donaldson managed to get ejected while hitting a home run.

Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

With the score 2-2, Bellino called a strike when the 2015 AL MVP checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch from Reynaldo Lopez.

Manager Rocco Baldelli came out to speak with Bellino, and Donaldson homered down the left-field line on the next offering. After rounding the bases, Donaldson kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it.

Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson, realizing he had missed home plate, returned to the plate to touch it and then argued as he kicked more dirt on it.

Donaldson also had argued with Bellino on a 1-1 breaking ball in the first inning that appeared to be high but was called a strike, leading to a strikeout.

“We need Josh on the field, out there playing, and at third base,” Baldelli said. “That’s when we’re at our best. And so that’s really the end of it. I think we can move past it at his point, and go from here.”