Thursday is the off day for a lot of teams, but May 12 still offered two intriguing pitching matchups in the National League. The Arizona Diamondbacks trotted out Zack Greinke versus the San Francisco Giants’ Johnny Cueto. But the marquee matchup contained the man widely regarded as one of the best, if not always the best, pitcher in the game going up against the league’s most beloved 42-year-old. Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers welcomed Bartolo Colon and the Mets into Los Angeles, and the Mets were yet another team subject to Kershaw’s continued dominance.
Statistically, the Mets found themselves victimized by a similar line during the 2015 regular season. Though they got runs in both matchups versus Kershaw in the 2015 postseason, a July 23 game at Citi Field saw the Mets as befuddled as they were tonight. Let’s compare the two games: July 23, 2015 – 9IP, 3H, 11K, 0BB, 104 pitches; May 13, 2016 – 9IP, 3H, 13K, 1BB, 108 pitches. The major difference between the games came in the form of the Dodgers’ offense. Last year, they scored just one before tacking on two insurance ones in the ninth, making Kershaw’s performance one in which a single errant pitch could’ve tied the game for eight innings. Last night’s game found the Dodgers locked in versus Colon early, tagging him for five runs in the game’s first three innings. He left a lot of pitches hanging up and then looked for breaking balls that simply didn’t break enough times. The magic of the home run was no match for the wear of throwing 14.2 innings in the 10 days before.
Not to mention Kershaw’s record of 80-0 coming into this game when he had at least four runs of support; once the Mets got down that much, the batters seemed resigned to their fate. A cruel bout of coincidence occurred as the broadcasters noted that Kevin Plawecki openly admitted to actively thinking about not letting Kershaw’s 12-6 curve fool him; immediately after, he struck out on that very pitch. This control was virtually there the whole game, but, during the game’s early innings, Kershaw had a couple at-bats where he wasn’t hitting his spots, which contributed to pushing him just over the threshold of pitching a Maddux. He ensured that there would be no noteworthy offensive events from the Mets, but this doesn’t mean nothing good came of the game.
Defensively, Asdrubal Cabrera made his presence felt twice on two diving plays – one a catch and the other coupled with a strong throw to first to get Joc Pederson out. Pitchingwise, Colon was not effective, but his replacement certainly was. Called up just yesterday after a strong stint in Las Vegas, Sean Gilmartin pitched three innings of one-hit ball and matched Colon’s three strikeouts in two fewer innings. Adding another arm to the bullpen is fine for when a game is in contention, but without the offense’s help, three effective innings down five can only do so much.
As such, there are no best individual plays of the day. Cabrera provided the Mets’ most noteworthy single events, and they were already discussed. With the loss, the Mets return to being tied for first with the Washington Nationals in the NL East. Today, the Mets travel to Colorado, where Coors Field hopefully catalyzes the offense that was so lacking yesterday.
Photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea – USA Today Sports