October 2, 2022

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Mad Max gets tossed … on his day off

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NEW YORK — Don’t be fooled by the ski cap Max Scherzer was wearing Tuesday night at Citi Field: Scherzer was steaming.

So hot was Scherzer, in fact, that home-plate umpire Jeremy Riggs ejected him in the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes in a game he wasn’t involved in at all. In the clubhouse following a 3-0 Mets win over the Braves, Scherzer was still fuming about a called third strike on Dominic Smith, which prompted him to shout some colorful language in Riggs’ direction.

“It was awesome,” teammate Pete Alonso said. “He’s not afraid to say what he wants to say.”

“He said what I’m sure Dom wanted to say,” added manager Buck Showalter.

According to data from retrosheet.org, Scherzer had only been ejected from one previous Major League game, and it was also one in which he did not pitch. On Aug. 9, 2013, umpire Will Little removed Scherzer from the Tigers’ loss to the Yankees for arguing a called third strike.

When Riggs ejected Scherzer nine years later at Citi Field, he did so in such a casual manner that Showalter wasn’t initially sure what had happened. As Smith lingered in the batter’s box and spoke a few words to Riggs, Scherzer began laughing in the Mets’ dugout, before growing serious as he shouted across the field to the umpire. Riggs responded with the ejection.

“It was like his arm moved, and then he got right behind the plate and called the next pitch,” Showalter said of Little. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.”

Asked whether he appreciates that sort of fire from Scherzer, Showalter said yes, so long as he limits it to games in which he’s not pitching. Before coming to New York, Scherzer was already well-known for his passionate demeanor on the mound. His teammates appreciate that he brings that same intensity to the dugout, even if it sometimes might cost him a seat on the bench.

“I’m sure it won’t be the last one Max gets this year,” Showalter said.

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