(Noah Syndergaard pitching to Max Muncy – Photo by Jason Schott)
The Mets suffered a crushing loss to the Dodgers, 9-2, on Friday night at Citi Field to open a critical three-game series against the best team in the National League.
The Mets fell to 76-71 and lose a game in the race for the second Wild Card spot to the Cubs, who were 17-8 winners over Pittsburgh on Friday afternoon. The Cubs now lead the Mets by three games.
This game featured a superb pitching matchup as Noah Syndergaard of the Mets against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw.
The storylines going in were who would catch for Syndergaard after it was reported in the New York Post that he liked Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera behind the plate when he’s on the mound. So, of course, Wilson Ramos was back there.
The Mets also made the decision to give first baseman Pete Alonso the night off, as he has (for him) been in a slump, hitless since a two-homer night on Monday. Todd Frazier started at first base, which was kind of tipped off when he came on to play there at the end of Wednesday night’s game.
J.D. Davis got the Mets on the board early when he hit a rocket to deep left field for a solo home run in the bottom of the first. This was Davis’ 19th dinger of the season.
Wilson Ramos drew a two-out walk, but Robinson Cano grounded to first to end the inning. That was the start of a stretch in which Kershaw retired eight straight Mets.
Syndergaard sailed through the first through innings, but ran into trouble in the fourth when he had to go through the Dodgers’ order a second time.
After getting Matt Beaty to ground out for the first walk, Syndergaard walked Cody Bellinger after a ten-pitch at-bat.
Corey Seager then followed with a single, and A.J. Pollock then got an RBI single to score Beaty and tie it at one.
Gavin Lux was up next, and he hit a bomb to center field that just cleared the fence for a three-run homer, giving Los Angeles a 4-1 lead.
Lux entered the game with one home run and 2 RBI on the season, and the Mets were not expecting that type of power considering that center fielder Juan Lagares was playing very shallow.
The Mets responded in the bottom of the fourth when Ramos and Cano singled with one out to give them their first baserunners since the opening frame. They couldn’t get them home, as Frazier popped up to third and Michael Conforto flew out to center.
Syndergaard worked around a walk to Max Muncy in the fifth, but since he was at 102 pitches, he was done for the night.
This was Syndergaard’s third straight tough outing at Citi Field, with his only win in his last four starts coming at Washington on September 2.
“I think in several of them, they’re one or two pitches,” Mets Manager Mickey Callaway said. “Tonight, it was the slider didn’t get quite where he wanted to, gave up the base hit, then the 3-2 curveball, I believe it was, just kind of hung up there. Otherwise, he threw four scoreless around that four-run inning. Just a couple pitches got to him tonight…
“Obviously, the at-bats are very good over there. I think the thing that ran his pitch count up was one guy – it was Bellinger, he saw 21 pitches, I believe. They put some at-bats together, they got a couple of hits, you know, Bellinger draws a huge walk (to start the fourth inning rally) on some really good pitches. That’s not really on Noah; it’s just a great at-bat, and then Seager gets a base hit when they’re running, and they get a ground ball up the middle (from Pollack) on that slider that, you know, could have gone either way, and may have been a double play, and then they hit the homer.
“It wasn’t terrible; it was really just, I really think it’s the slider that didn’t quite get there when he hit the base hit up the middle, and then the homer.”
On how Syndergaard did with Ramos, Callaway said, “I thought they did fine, it seemed like their rhythm was good. Like I said, except for two pitches, it seemed to work out pretty good. I’m sure Noah would love to have those two pitches back and those three at-bats of Bellinger’s, where he’s fouling tough pitches off – those were probably some of the best pitches Noah threw all night were to Bellinger, and he kept on grinding it out and fouling balls off, and ran his pitch count up.”
Jeurys Familia pitched a perfect sixth inning and retired the first two in the seventh before allowing a hit to Joc Pederson to the left side, which had only one Met covering since the shift was on.
That was all for Familia, as Luis Avilan came on to face the lefties coming up in the Dodgers’ order.
Muncy was the first hitter Avilan faced and he walked before Beaty laced a double down the left field line to score two, and then Bellinger got one by Amed Rosario to bring him Beaty and make it 7-1.
Kershaw ran out of gas in the bottom of the seventh, as he allowed a one-out single to Frazier before walking Conforto and pinch-hitter Pete Alonso to end his night.
Joe Kelly came on to face pinch-hitter Brandon Nimmo, who hit one back to him and he fired to the plate to force out Frazier for the second out.
Rosario was up next, and he singled to bring home Frazier and make it 7-2 before Davis grounded out to end the inning.
The Dodgers added to their lead in the eighth when Edwin Rios, who was pinch-hitting for Kelly, hit a two-run shot off Walter Lockett to open up a 9-2 lead, and that would be the final.