Dickey Strong, Mets Offense And Defense Weak As Padres Take Series Opener

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The Padres are one of the worst-hitting teams in the league. Their lineup is Carlos Quentin, Chase Headley, and a bunch of stank. R.A. Dickey is one of the best pitchers in the league. He has arguably been the best pitcher in the league, depending on your feelings towards various statistics. So on paper, tonight's game looked like a mismatch, a fine opportunity for the Mets to continue their strong west coast swing. However, poor defense and a lack of timely hitting doomed them at Petco Park, a stadium in which the Mets' all-time record is now just 9-19.

Dickey cruised for much of the game. He did not allow a hit until the fifth inning, a single by Yonder Alonso. He walked Everth Cabrera in the third inning but ended up picking him off first base. This had the makings of one of those brilliant Dickey starts from June. Then the game turned in the Padres' favor, starting in the sixth inning. Cabrera lead off with a walk and avenged the pickoff by executing a delayed steal of third base, with some help from slow-on-the-uptake Josh Thole and David Wright. Chris Denorfia drove Cabrera home with a sacrifice fly to tie the game 1-1. After the Mets went down quietly in the top of the seventh inning against Clayton Richard, the Padres came up to bat in what would be the decisive inning.

Quentin singled against Dickey with one out. Then Yonder Alonso hit what looked like a catchable fly ball to right-center field. Scott Hairston had the best opportunity to snag it from his right field position but his awkward sliding attempt at the ball failed. The hefty Quentin lumbered around the bases and Ronny Cedeno made a terrific relay throw to Thole which beat Quentin by 30 or 40 feet. Unfortunately, Quentin dislodged the ball from Thole's grasp in the ensuing collision, scoring what proved to be the decisive run. It's a play Thole has to make -- he was charged with an error -- but if a tepid defense is to be offered, it might be that: a) Quentin is a big dude; and b) Perhaps Thole had memories of the concussion he sustained earlier this season on a collision with Ty Wigginton. John Baker then singled home Alonso to give the Padres a 3-1 lead.

The Mets were on base 11 times -- 9 singles and 2 walks -- but managed just the 1 run because of double plays and untimely strikeouts. Their only run came on an RBI infield single by Cedeno in the fourth inning. The eighth inning saw the Mets' last strong chance to put some runs on the board. Justin Turner led off with a pinch-hit single and Ruben Tejada followed with a single of his own. However, Andres Torres and Wright both struck out against Luke Gregerson, and Huston Street came on to retire pinch hitter Jordany Valdespin on a ground ball to second base. Street sent the Mets down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning to finish it.

Thole went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and double play, in addition to the defensive miscues. His slash line is down to .264/.316/.329. For context, the average National League catcher line is .252/.323/.405. His expected lack of power is usually offset by his ability to draw a walk but his walk rate has dropped off significantly from the prior two seasons. He should continue to play almost everyday behind the plate but the lack of progress he has shown in his age-25 season is slightly disappointing.

Both teams wore a 1989 throwback uniform as part of an '80s Night promotion. It was cool; have a look:

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The Mets are now 5-4 on this west coast trip with two games remaining. It will take two straight wins to match last season's first-ever series victory at Petco. Saturday's game starts at 8:35 pm. The pitching matchup is Jeremy Hefner vs Edinson Volquez.

SB Nation Coverage

* Traditional Recap
* Box Score
* Amazin' Avenue Gamethread
* Gaslamp Ball Gamethread

Win Probability Added

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Big winners: Ronny Cedeno +10.2%, Justin Turner +6.4%
Big losers: R.A. Dickey -21.9% (as pitcher), Josh Thole -14.4%
Teh aw3s0mest play: Ronny Cedeno RBI single in the fourth inning +10.7%
Teh sux0rest play: Carlos Quentin scores on Josh Thole error in the seventh inning -28.6%
Total pitcher WPA: -21.1%
Total batter WPA: -28.9%
GWRBI!: N/A -- GW run scored on Thole error in the seventh inning

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