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Max Scherzer pulls himself out of his start with left side discomfort in Mets win over Cards

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Max Scherzer pulls himself out of his start with left side discomfort

An uneasy feeling of anxiety or dread, or maybe both, settled over Citi Field.

Max Scherzer took himself out of his start in the middle of an at-bat against Albert Pujols in the sixth inning of the Mets’ 11-4 win over the Cardinals on Wednesday night. Scherzer threw two sliders to Pujols, the latter causing him to pull the plug on his 87-pitch outing.

The Mets later announced that Scherzer left the game with “discomfort in his left side.” The right-hander will go for an MRI on Thursday, the team said.

Scherzer motioned to the Mets dugout, as he appeared to repeatedly say, “I’m done. I’m done.” Manager Buck Showalter, pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and an athletic trainer all approached the mound. The meeting was quick. Scherzer departed with the trainer out of his start and into the clubhouse.

The veteran right-hander allowed two runs, one earned, on seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts across 5.2 innings against the Cardinals in his eighth start of the year. The Mets (25-14) picked up Scherzer once he left the game, putting up a five-run rally in the eighth inning courtesy of a three-run home run by Pete Alonso. As the Mets rolled ahead to their 10th win of the month, the mood and atmosphere at Citi Field began to lift.

Winning tends to be the cure for worry. But depending on how much time, if any, Scherzer will be required to miss, the pressure on the Mets to keep winning and adapt that next-man-up mentality will only deepen.

The Jacob deGrom-less Mets rotation surprised everyone to begin the year, posting a fifth-best ERA (3.28) in the major leagues, good for second-best in the National League right behind the Dodgers (2.59). But Scherzer (2.54 ERA) and Tylor Megill are major reasons for that early rotation success. With Megill already on the injured list indefinitely with right biceps tendinitis, and deGrom (stress reaction on scapula) unexpected to return until late June at best, the Amazin’s cannot afford to lose Scherzer just when they need him to step up and carry the starting staff.

In the short time Scherzer has been with his new team, the eight-time All-Star quickly turned into a veteran leader in the Mets clubhouse. Fellow rotation mate Chris Bassitt frequently mentions Scherzer as someone he’s learned from and leaned on to improve his own game. Scherzer can also be seen mentoring younger pitchers in the Mets dugout — when he’s not getting thrown out of games for arguing balls and strikes, of course. In just a few months, Scherzer has become a staple on a 2022 Mets squad that has captured first place in the NL East.

Scherzer, 37, signed a three-year, $130 million contract with the Mets in December, representing a new and thrilling chapter in the Steve Cohen era. Scherzer’s $43 million in average annual value (AAV) topped Gerrit Cole’s deal with the Yankees (nine years, $324 million) for the largest AAV on a contract in MLB history.

The three-time Cy Young winner and future Hall of Famer had just come off an All-Star season between the Nationals and Dodgers. He went 15-4 and posted a career-best 2.46 ERA with 236 strikeouts, the fourth-most in MLB in 2021, across 30 starts. Once he signed the fifth-largest contract in Mets history, Scherzer spent the offseason as a member of the player union’s executive subcommittee, fiercely negotiating with Major League Baseball during the owners’ lockout.

But Scherzer’s time spent at the table did not take away from his usual winter routine. The right-hander ramped up throughout the offseason and showed up to Mets spring training ahead of the others, hurling five innings in his spring debut. He dealt with hamstring tightness in the final week of exhibition games in early April, but he was able to make his first turn through the rotation and avoid missing any time on the IL.

The Mets scored four runs in the fifth inning with an RBI single by Alonso, a sac fly by Eduardo Escobar, an RBI single by Dominic Smith and a sac bunt by Luis Guillorme.

They blew the game open in the eighth, highlighted by Alonso’s three-run blast, his ninth of the season.

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Minnesota United gives away late lead in Miami

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Minnesota United gives away late lead in Miami

For so much of the second half, Minnesota looked comfortable and ready to take a much-needed victory.

Shockingly, Inter Miami, the second-worst goal-scoring team in MLS notched two goals in the final three minutes to flip the script and take a 2-1 victory in the first MLS meeting between the two teams.

“[We] put ourselves in a great spot,” manager Adrian Heath said. “Put ourselves in a really good position. We’re not doing enough, it doesn’t look as though it’s enough to concede goals and lose games.”

Inter Miami forward Indiana Vassilev only made it into the game as a late-game bench substitution, but he made the most of his opportunity scoring in the 87th and 90th minute to give his team a victory, surpassing Minnesota’s one-goal lead it held since the 65th minute.

The Loons’ defense had kept Minnesota in the game for each chance Inter Miami had for the first 86 minutes, but the team couldn’t get the stops near the end to come up with the victory.

“At those times of the game, you need to do whatever you can to just beat your man,” Loons defender Michael Boxall said.

Minnesota’s victory looked nearly locked up as the Loons held the 1-0 difference into the final five minutes of the game. That goal followed a resilient start to the second half after many chances weren’t finished.

The Minnesota goal scorer was Luis Amarilla, who put the ball past the Inter Miami goalkeeper in tight in the 65th minute. It was his first goal in MLS play since March 19.

Amarilla was in such a position to score the goal so close to the keeper because of an acrobatic one-touch centering pass from Franco Fragapane. The play all began from Emmanuel Reynoso getting the ball on the right side of the attacking zone. He cut towards the middle and sent a lofting kick that found the airborne Fragapane for his assist.

While Minnesota finally found the back of the net in the back half of the game, there was no shortage of missed opportunities earlier in the contest.

“We’re not good enough at one end, and we’re not good enough at the other, and that’s not a good recipe,” Heath said. “We’ve got to get more and more determination to get on the things in the box and we’ve certainly got to defend the goal better.”

By the end of the game, Inter Miami had eight shots on target, while Minnesota had just one, the Amarilla goal.

The loss marks the first since Minnesota announced Heath’s two-year contract extension through 2024 on Thursday. The defeat also adds to a 1-6-1 stretch over the Loons’ last eight games, including Saturday night.

Heath said on Wednesday that the goal was to come away with four points in this road trip at Inter Miami on Saturday and on Wednesday at L.A. Galaxy. With the loss to Inter Miami, that goal is no longer possible.

The Loons must keep looking forward to get back on track and into playoff contention. After the loss on Saturday, Minnesota sits 11th in the Western Conference Standings, five points outside of the seventh spot, the cutoff for the playoffs.

“The good thing is that it’s a quick turnaround,” Boxall said. “Not quite looking ahead to L.A. just yet, we still need to process this game and figure out what we need to address, because that should be three points we’re taking home tonight.”

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Twins record second shutout in three days in win over Rockies

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Twins record second shutout in three days in win over Rockies

Puffy white clouds filled the blue skies above Target Field and sunlight bounced off buildings that make up the Minneapolis skyline. It was the kind of summer night at the ballpark that Minnesotans dream about throughout the long winter months.

It was the perfect night at Target Field and the hometown team, well, they were nearly perfect, too. Twins pitchers gave up just one hit (and five walks), and the team captured a first-inning lead on its way to a 6-0 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night at Target Field.

A day after getting shut out for the 10th time this season, tying the league lead, Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton made sure early on that the Twins wouldn’t suffer the same fate. Arraez snapped an 0-for-11 stretch to begin the game and Buxton, back in the lineup for the first time since Tuesday, followed that up with his first triple since 2019.

After missing time this week after his knee flared up, Buxton turned on the burners, with a sprint speed of 29.3 feet/second (30 ft/sec is elite) on the triple, losing his helmet along the way. When he reached the base, he pounded his chest a couple times, smacked his hands together and let out a roar.

While the Twins left Buxton on third, they added on throughout the game, tacking on a run in the second on Arraez’s second hit of the game, two more in the fifth and two more in the seventh.

Alex Kirilloff drove in three of those runs, one on a sacrifice fly and the other on a double off the right field wall, bringing home Max Kepler — who walked three times in the game — and Kyle Garlick. The double was his fourth in eight games since being recalled from Triple-A.

All that offense came in support of Chris Archer, who worked five innings and allowed just one hit — a single to former Twin C.J. Cron in the second inning — and a walk in his outing.  Archer pitched out of that second-inning jam, retiring the next three batters in a row, the first of 12 straight that he sent down to conclude his start.

His start was followed by a scoreless inning each from Jharel Cotton and Griffin Jax and two from Tyler Thornburg. Twins pitchers have now thrown two shutouts in their past three games, and in Friday’s loss, they gave up just one run.

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A Pride timeline: Gay rights in Minnesota from 1858-2022

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A Pride timeline: Gay rights in Minnesota from 1858-2022

1858: Joseph Israel Lobdell, born Lucy Lobdell, is arrested for “impersonating a man.” A judge in the rural camp community of Forest City, Minn., sided with Lobdell, ruling that he did not act unlawfully.

1877: Minneapolis rules crossdressing as illegal, putting gender-nonconforming Minnesotans at risk for imprisonment.

1969: The Stonewall riots begin in New York City after police raids occur in the gay-friendly bars and community spaces of Lower Manhattan. These riots serve as a public turning point in American LGBTQ+ history.

May 18, 1969: University of Minnesota alumni found Fight Repression of Erotic Expression, or FREE, the first LGBTQ+ rights organization in the state. Founders Jack Baker and Michael McConnell become the first same-sex couple in the nation to apply for a marriage license, an application that is rejected by Hennepin County. Their legal case is dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court in one sentence.

1972: The first Twin Cities Pride celebration is held in Minneapolis’ Loring Park.

Dec. 9, 1972: Minnesota state Sen. Allan Henry Spear indicates he is gay in an interview with the Minneapolis Star, making him the first openly gay state legislator in the United States.

June 1982: Bruce Brockway becomes the first documented recipient of an HIV diagnosis in Minnesota. After his diagnosis, he founded the Minnesota AIDS Project to provide resources to HIV-positive Minnesotans.

1993: Gender- and sexuality-based discrimination is outlawed in Minnesota, making it the first state in the nation to adopt the policy.

1997: Sicaŋgu Lakota man Nicholas Metcalf and his partner, Korean-American Edd Lee, found the Minnesota Men of Color, an organization that focuses on the well-being of men, women and gender-nonconforming people of color.

2012: Amendment 1, which limits marriage rights to only heterosexual couples, is rejected by the majority of Minnesota voters. Same-sex marriage is legalized in the state.

June 2015: The U.S. Supreme Court releases a decision in Obergefell v. Hodges finding that same-sex marriage cannot be banned in any state and must be recognized nationally. Gay marriage is legalized.

June 25-26, 2022: After two years of pandemic-related cancellations, the Twin Cities Pride parade and festival returns to Minneapolis.

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