Getting booed by the fans at Citi Field is nothing new for Paul Sewald. That is why shutting them up on Friday night felt so good.
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Sewald, who was drafted by the Mets in 2012 and spent his first four seasons in the big leagues playing for them, returned to Citi Field on Friday night with the Mariners. He entered the game in the seventh inning to boos from the Mets’ fans and, with runners on second and third in a 1-1 game, got Starling Marte to strike out. He returned in the eighth inning after the Mariners took a 2-1 lead and got three outs, including a strikeout of Eduardo Escobar to end the inning.
“I had a lot of positive moments here and unfortunately too many negative moments when I was a Met,” Sewald said before the teams played Saturday night. “That’s kind of why I’m not anymore. [Friday night] was emotional. The fans were not the biggest fans of mine when I was here so to do it in front of them, especially when they booed me coming in, it was a little extra motivation, a little bit extra excitement. Nothing against New York fans, they’re very passionate. When things are going well, they’re the best fans to have. When they’re not going so well, they’re tough on you.
“It just felt good to do it in this stadium where I grew up as a pitcher.”
The Mets non-tendered Sewald after the 2020 season and he signed with Seattle. It was hard to argue with the Mets’ decision. Sewald had a 5.50 career ERA with the Mets and went 1-14 in 125 games.
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When he came off the mound Friday, he let out a scream and it was clear what the performance meant to him.
“It was 18 months coming,” Sewald told Mariners reporters on Friday night. “They got rid of me, and I was hoping that I could get up here and pitch against them. It’s pretty nice to do it really well and help our team get the win for it.
“They gave up on me, and so it’s pretty nice to get a little revenge today. Most importantly, we got a win.”
Sewald has turned his career around in Seattle. He began this season by retiring each of the first 18 batters he faced in his first six appearances. He went 10-3 with 11 saves and a 3.06 ERA last year.
“I’m just a different guy,” Sewald said. “No more sinkers, no more in and out, no more changeups. It’s just all fastballs at the top and sweeping sliders. I have two different pitches than I did when I was here. If I would have had these pitches when I was in New York, I would have been a great reliever in New York. It wasn’t a Seattle thing. I changed who I was as a pitcher and it coincided with the time that I switched from playing for the Mets to playing for the Mariners.”