Nite Cap: Dodgers Prevail in Offensive Fail-Off, Mets Fall Below .500

If you stayed in to watch this game on a gorgeous summer Sunday afternoon, congratulations! You've wasted your life, almost as much as the Mets wasted virtually every opportunity they had in this game. And boy, did they have plenty.

The Mets sported even more lefties in their lineup than usual, trying to take advantage of pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, who has struggled against southpaws this season. However, the Dodgers' starter had little trouble in the first frames, as he retired the Mets in order in the first, then worked around a walk and a hit to start the second by retiring the next three in a row. Jordany Valdespin fought him in a tough at bat and managed a two-out single in the third, but Eovaldi struck out David Wright on a pitch in the dirt to escape unscathed.

Jon Niese, meanwhile, had few issues with the Dodgers over the same span. He allowed a single to Jerry Hairston Jr. to open the game but left his stranded at first. Then, after a 1-2-3 second, Niese worked a scoreless third despite a baserunner reaching on a rare Ruben Tejada miscue (not technically an error, but Tejada broke late on a grounder, assuming David Wright would scoop it up). But in the top of the fourth, as has happened to Niese so often this season, he was bitten by the longball, as Matt Kemp led off the inning with a single and Juan Rivera hit a no-doubter to the seats in left-center to put LA up 2-0.

The Mets looked caught a break in the bottom half when Dan Murphy hit a one-out "double" down the right field line that was actually foul. Lucas Duda followed with a single to left, and Josh Thole managed one of the (very) few clutch hits of the day with a two-out single to score Murphy and cut the Dodgers' lead in half.

Eovaldi began to show more signs of cracking in the fifth, when Valdespin bunted his way on with one out, then Wright bounced a single up the middle to put runners at the corners. Rather than give Eovaldi a chance to escape the inning and earn a win, Don Mattingly exercised the quick hook. Lefty Scott Elbert came on and fanned Ike Davis, making him look bad in the process, and got Murphy to fly out to left to end the threat. That brought the runners stranded total on the day to seven, and we were just getting started.

After an uneventful fifth, Niese saw Mark Ellis hit bounce off of Wright's glove for a leadoff single to start the top of the sixth. A long fly out to center from Kemp allowed Ellis to tag up and move to second, which further allowed him to score on an Andre Ethier single, expanding the Dodgers' lead to 3-1.

The sixth brought another drought of clutchitude, as Elbert and fresh arm Shawn Tolleson conspired to strand two more runners. But in the seventh, they got a break when Davis appeared to strike out swinging to end the inning, only to be called back by home plate ump Jim Joyce, who said he got a piece of the ball. Replays were inconclusive at best, but given second life, Ike belted a double into the right field corner. Murphy followed with a dunker into shallow left that allowed Davis to come around to score.

In the top of the 8th, two singles to start the frame ended Niese's day, but Tim Byrdak and Jon Rauch combined to keep the Dodgers off the scoreboard. LA's relievers did the same in the bottom half, as a one-out single from Josh Thole was negated by a GIDP from pinch hitter Justin Turner. (He's clutch!) Closer-by-default Bobby Parnell worked the top of the ninth and negotiated a one-out error by single by getting a GIDP of his own.

After using Kenley Jansen to close the first two games of the series, the Dodgers turned to ex-closer Javy Guerra instead. Tejada had looked overmatched at the plate all day, but he led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to center. Valdespin bunted him down to second, which was enough to make a true SABR's head explode, but Wright followed this with a dribbler up the middle to put runners at the corners. Davis followed with a slow dribbler toward first that James Loney bobbled, negating any chance to nail Tejada at the plate. Loney did, however, recover in time to get ike at first. (Replays showed he should have been called safe; this was perhaps karmic revenge for the two advantageous calls the Mets received earlier in the game, both of which led to runs.) Guerra got a grounder from Lucas Duda to send the game into extras.

Parnell stayed in to pitch the top of the tenth and managed to set the Dodgers down in order, despite the fact that one of those batters was Kemp. Guerra also stayed in to pitch a second inning but was not quite as sharp, allowing a leadoff double to Nieuwenhuis, and a walk pinch hitter Scott Hairston. That brought up Mike Nickeas (inserted late in Thole's place) in a bunting situation, but he laid one down that went right back to the pitcher, and Guerra was able to get a force on the runner at third. He might have had a double play, but Nickeas reached first when the first base umpire said Ellis came off the bag. Replays indicated this was a bad call, but the Mets were unable to take advantage, as Tejada bounced into a double play that could not be so easily overlooked, and the 11th inning beckoned.

Ramon Ramirez got the assignment in that 11th, and he proceeded to walk the first batter he faced, Ethier--the first free pass by any Mets pitcher on the day, if you can believe that. Clayton Kershaw was sent up to bunt and did so far more successfully than Nickeas, moving Ethier to second, but Ramirez struck out looking, and following an intentional walk, AJ Ellis fouled out to end the inning, In the bottom half, the Dodgers were forced to turn to Josh Wall, a righy making his MLB debut. Wright got to him for a one-out single but was thrown out trying to steal second, and Davis was retired on a broken bat fly out.

Ramirez remained in the game for the 12th and allowed yet another leadoff baserunner, a single by James Loney. Tony Gwynn Jr. tried to lay down a sac bunt and was called safe at first on yet another blown call at first base. Another sac bunt went awry in the other direction when Mark Ellis popped out to Ramirez, then Kemp hit a smash down to first that Davis turned into a force out at second. An intentional walk to Ethier brought up the pitcher's spot and the last man on LA's bench, Matt Treanor, but that strategy failed when Treanor bounced a single up the middle to drive in two.

The Dodgers then poured it on with an RBI single from Cruz, then scored two more when we got the one thing we'd been missing from this game: a Lucas Duda misplay in right. In the Mets' last at bat, Dan Murphy led off with a double, just so he could be stranded at second when pinch hitter Jason Bay struck out to end the game. That made 14 runners left undisturbed on the day.

The Mets managed just 3 runs on the day, despite logging 16 hits. They have now lost 9 of their last 10, and have dropped a game below .500 for the first time this season. I think we all knew/feared the Mets would come down to earth at some point, but it doesn't make the reality of it any less crappy.

Get 'em tomorrow, right guys? Guys?

SB Nation Coverage

* Traditional Recap
* Boxscore
* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* True Blue LA Gamethread

Win Probability Added

Chart_3__medium

Big winners: David Wright, +19.%, Bobby Parnell, +16.7%
Big losers: Ramon Ramirez, -36.2%, Ruben Tejada, -20.9%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Ike Davis RBI groundout, bottom 9th, +15.2%
Teh sux0rest play: Matt Treanor two-run single, top 12th, -39.5%
Total pitcher WPA: -20.1%
Total batter WPA: -30.0%
GWRBI!: Matt Treanor two-run single, top 12th

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