Padres hammer Scherzer, rout Mets 7-1 in playoff opener

Wild Card Series - San Diego Padres v New York Mets - Game One
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NEW YORK – 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.

TRAINER’S ROOM

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.

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Snell (8-10, 3.38 ERA) has a 2.53 ERA in his past 17 starts, allowing one run or fewer in 13 of them. The 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner was 1-1 in two outings against the Mets this season.

Meanwhile, deGrom (5-4, 3.08) is 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA in his last four starts.

Brian Cashman signs 4-year contract to remain Yankees GM

Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Brian Cashman has signed a four-year contract to remain the New York Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager. The announcement was made during the first day of baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Cashman, New York’s GM since 1998, had been working on a handshake agreement since early November, when his five-year contract expired.

The Yankees were swept by four games in the AL Championship Series and haven’t reached the World Series since winning in 2009. It is the franchise’s longest title drought since an 18-year gap between 1978-96.

Cashman’s main goal during the offseason is trying to re-sign AL MVP Aaron Judge.

Judge hit an American League-record 62 homers this season with a .311 batting average and 131 RBIs. He turned down the Yankees’ offer on the eve of opening day of a seven-year contract that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29.

While Judge remains on the market, Cashman was able to re-sign Anthony Rizzo on Nov. 15 to a two-year contract worth $40 million after turning down a $16 million player option.

Cashman has been the Yankees general manager since 1998. He has been with the organization since 1986, when he was a 19-year old intern in the scouting department. In his 25 seasons as GM, the Yankees have reached the postseason 21 times, including four World Series championships and six American League titles.