Max Scherzer played with fire before he got burnt by his personal kryptonite.
Scherzer squandered a two-run lead when Victor Caratini hit the game-tying home run off of him in the sixth inning Thursday, and the Mets went on to lose 3-2 to the Brewers at Citi Field.
“Any time we lose by one, you look at what could you have done to prevent one extra run from scoring?” Scherzer said. “You are always going to look at yourself. It’s unfortunate that homer really flipped the game a little bit. I’m accountable for those two runs.
“You wish you would’ve gotten a zero up there, and you never know how things would’ve gone.”
Caratini, a journeyman backup catcher with a .233 average over seven seasons, improved to an inexplicable 10-for-20 against the Hall of Fame-bound Scherzer.
The 415-foot one-out blast to center field came on Scherzer’s 93rd pitch.
“The game always finds somebody that can get you,” Scherzer said after scattering seven hits and two walks. Unfortunately he’s one of those guys that’s had my number and gotten some big hits against me.
“There are always going to be guys out there that are going to be able to get you. They are always going to find a way into the lineup. You have to get those guys out.
“I don’t care if he’s had success or not. I feel like I always have the ability to get guys out.”
Seemingly unfazed by poor air quality, Scherzer retired the first five batters of the game but only sat the side down in order in the first inning, needing at least 20 pitches to get through the third, fourth and sixth. He got only one whiff on 22 swings against his 39 fastballs but leaned on a sharp curveball.
“I’ll try to come back next time and pitch even better,” Scherzer said, “because I know I’m capable of that even though tonight was good.”
Scherzer is unbeaten in his last nine starts and it was the third straight with two or fewer runs allowed, but it wasn’t without controversy.
Scherzer alternated between looks of disbelief and confusion and pointed to the entry-point of his glove during a minute-long discussion with home-plate umpire Run Kulpa in the middle of the fourth inning. Kulpa warned Scherzer that he was at risk for a balk when pressing the button on his PitchCom device.
“I don’t know if this was the Brewers saying it, but Ron was saying that when I’m on the mound out of the stretch that if I push the button while I’m on the mound, technically I’m coming set. I’m stopping,” said Scherzer, who confirmed he has done it the same way for the whole season. “Whatever. I don’t get it.”
Mets manager Buck Showalter defended Scherzer, who had a 10-game suspension earlier this season for sticky hands after a foreign substance check.
“It’s nothing illegal,” Showalter said. “I’m sure [Kulpa] thinks he’s being preventative about it. At some point, you have to take your hand and hit the button.”
Showalter pulled Scherzer after 102 pitches for T.J. McFarland’s second appearance of the season.
McFarland allowed two of three batters to reach and took the loss.
“If the situation was right, I could’ve gone back out there for the seventh,” Scherzer said, “but the way the game was unfolding, I get why I was pulled.”