After losing two in Colorado, the Mets return to Citi Field with Jacob deGrom on the mound, who looks to bounce back after having his eight-game winning streak snapped in Seattle. Opposing the Mets were the behemoth Dodgers and their newly acquired ace, Yu Darvish. The Mets are bad. The Dodgers are historically great. You do the math on how this game is going to go.
Jacob deGrom ran into the monster that is the Dodgers’ lineup right out of the gate, as he lost a nine-pitch battle to the leadoff hitter Chris Taylor when Taylor deposited a solo home run onto the Party Citi Deck. deGrom ran into more trouble in the inning, giving up a double to Corey Seager and walking Joc Pederson, but he was able to strand runners at second and third and keep the deficit at 1-0. However, his pitch count was already inflated at 31.
The second inning wasn’t quite as arduous, but deGrom again allowed a solo home run, this time to Yasiel Puig. deGrom did manage to strike out two, but wasted six pitches on Yu Darvish and threw another seven pitches to Chris Taylor, pushing his pitch count to 49. Similar struggles dogged deGrom in the third, where he threw another 32 pitches. The Dodgers didn’t score, but all five batters who came to the plate saw at least six pitches.
It seemed like deGrom might be turning a corner after the top of the third. In the bottom half of the inning, he grounded a curveball to left field, an impressive bit of hitting for a position player, let alone a pitcher. Two batters later, deGrom swiped second base for his first career steal, though he’d be stranded at second. To follow that up, deGrom set the Dodgers down in order in the top of the fourth, striking out three on 10 pitches.
Unfortunately, that momentum wouldn’t last. Chris Taylor started the fifth with a single (he only saw four pitches this at bat), and Corey Seager followed that up with a ground ball that could have been a double play, but it went under the glove of the inexperienced first baseman Jay Bruce to put runners on the corners. Justin Turner grounded into a double play to force in a run and Cody Bellinger popped up the first pitch to end the inning, but the Dodger lead was 3-0 and deGrom’s night was done.
The Met ace finished with five innings of three run ball, striking out eight, giving up five hits, and walking three. He certainly didn’t have his best stuff tonight, struggling to command his pitches low in the zone, but this was also far from a bad night by normal pitcher standards. His struggles just exemplify just how much of a meat grinder this Dodger lineup is. It’s easy to see why they’ve gone 41-7 over their last 48 games.
Amed Rosario led off the bottom of the fifth with his first hit at home as a Met, which also continued his career-opening four-game hit streak. Rosario followed that up with his first major league steal, then moved to third on a ground out from Brandon Nimmo. Rosario was ultimately stranded when Michael Conforto struck out, however, and the score remained 3-0.
Josh Smoker entered for the sixth inning and started things off by inducing a dribbler from Joc Pederson. He then walked Yasmani Grandal to bring Chase Utley to the plate. Met fans everywhere probably felt what happened next coming, as Utley launched a two-run home run into upper deck in right to push the Dodger lead to 5-0. In case you wanted a refresher on just how much Utley has owned the Mets, that’s his 39th career homer against New York and his 14th at Citi Field, trailing only Giancarlo Stanton (20 homers at Citi Field). Smoker, a left-handed pitcher, oddly selected to throw a changeup to Utley, a left-handed batter. As SNY went to a break, Keith Hernandez accurately remarked “that’s just a stupid pitch.”
The top of the Dodger lineup tacked on some more runs in the top of the seventh. With Chasen Bradford on the mound, Chris Taylor walked, Corey Seager doubled, and Justin Turner lofted a sacrifice fly to extend the Dodger lead to 6-0. Bradford was able to keep Seager at third, and followed that up with a clean eighth inning. After an excellent outing in Colorado, Bradford tosses 2.2 innings with three strikeouts, allowing one run.
You’ll notice that I’ve made basically no mention of the Met offense so far, and you’re not wrong. There was just very little to comment on. After Conforto lined Darvish’s first pitch into right field for a base hit, the newest Dodger settled in to stifle the Mets. He finished with seven innings of shutout ball, striking out 10 and walking one. All three hits he allowed were singles. Conforto added a second hit in the bottom of the eighth against Josh Fields, but the Mets could make nothing of that baserunner either.
Erik Goeddel set the Dodgers down in order in the top of the ninth with some help from Neil Walker, who made a fantastic defensive play on a pop up over his head. Yoenis Cespedes managed a walk in the bottom of the ninth, but any remaining hope for a comeback was dashed when Joc Pederson ended the game with a leaping catch at the left center field wall to rob Walker of extra bases and end the game.
The loss drops the Mets to 49-58, pushing them to seventh in the reverse standings. Last time the Mets drafted seventh overall, they selected Matt Harvey in 2012. That sounded like a positive tidbit in my head, but then I thought about it a bit more. So it goes with the Mets.
Thoughts from the Game
For those of you wondering just how badly the Mets have been smashed by Los Angeles this year, they’ve now given up 18 home runs in five games. The collective score in those games is 11-42. The Mets have been shutout twice in those five games and have lost three games by six runs or more. The closest game was a 6-3 loss in the finale of their four-game set in June.
Will Little is an astoundingly horrific umpire. After throwing out both Russell Martin and Marcus Stroman in a span of about five seconds last week, both sides were continually frustrated with Little’s strike zone Friday night. Jacob deGrom and Yu Darvish both showed their displeasure at various points (though neither of them are as outspoken as Stroman), and it was easy to see why. Little started by calling the low strike, then seemed to start flipping coins with any ball towards either of the low corners the rest of the way. There’s a long diatribe about major league umpires, but suffice to say that I won’t look forward to the next time Will Little is behind the dish.
Other Met News
Jay Bruce has cleared revocable trade waivers, but that’s not particularly surprising given his fairly hefty salary and a general lack of demand for corner bats who can’t play defense. It still seems likely that Bruce will stick out the season with the Mets and receive a qualifying offer. There’s also every chance the Mets look to bring Bruce back next season, as they seem to be the only team left in baseball interested in the profile he offers.
Photo credit: Noah K. Murray – USA Today Sports