On a night when Mets starter Jacob deGrom was merely good instead of his usual superb, the team’s continued inability to score with runners in scoring position doomed him to his third loss of the season as the Dodgers beat the Mets 8-3. The Mets went 2-for-12 with RISP in this game, and have gone a stunning 4-for-53 in those spots in their last thirteetn games at Citi Field. Their average during this span is a paltry .215, as they have lost 12 of their last 13 games at home.
deGrom pitched six innings, giving up three runs and five hits throwing 112 pitches. Despite the three runs allowed, he still leads the NL with a 1.69 ERA.
The Dodgers started three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw. It was his first appearance since May 31, but felt lower back discomfort and was placed on the DL after the game. Kershaw was supposed to make a start at Triple-A Oklahoma City in Omaha before rejoining the team, but a threat of rain in Omaha and a good deal of cajoling to management by Kershaw resulted in the start against the Mets. That set up a matchup of two of the league’s best pitchers, but the Dodgers wasted little time in spoiling the festivities.
deGrom gave up a home run to Max Mercy on the game’s first pitch to give the Dodgers an immediate lead. The Mets responded in the bottom of the second with back-to-back doubles by Michael Conforto and Jose Bautista to tie the game 1-1. The Mets were in a position to add more runs as Devin Mesoraco walked, putting runners on first and second, but Amed Rosario swung at the first pitch he saw, grounding into an inning-ending double play.
deGrom showed his resilience in the top of the third as Joc Pederson singled and Muncy walked putting two runners on with one out. But with his customary grit, the Mets ace got Justin Turner on a lazy fly ball to right and struck out Cody Bellinger. The Mets took the lead in the bottom of the frame as deGrom helped his own cause with a single to right. Following a Brandon Nimmo strikeout, Todd Frazier reached on an infield single and one out later, deGrom scored on a one-out single by Wilmer Flores to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.
That would be all for Kershaw, who threw 55 pitches in three innings, giving up two runs on five hits with four strikeouts. He was clearly rusty as he walked a batter which is a rarity for him and gave up several well-struck drives. He was replaced by rookie left-hander Caleb Ferguson. But before the 21-year-old delivered his first pitch, the Dodgers retook the lead in the top of the fourth. After a single by Yasami Grandal and a walk to Enrique Hernandez, Chris Taylor, who pinch hit for for Kershaw, lined a two-out, two-run double to right center to give the Dodgers the lead.
In the top of the fifth, deGrom had to pitch out of trouble again as he allowed a one out triple to Bellinger in a ball that Conforto misplayed in center field. The official scorer ruled it a three base hit but it was a ball that could have clearly been caught. But deGrom bailed out his young outfielder by striking out Yasiel Puig and retiring Grandel on an infield pop-up. The bottom of the fifth could be a microcosm of all that has gone wrong with the Mets’ bats over the last few weeks. Nimmo and Frazier both singled to center to start the inning giving the Mets runners at first and third with no outs with the heart of the line-up to follow. But as has been the case so often, the Mets failed to score as Asdrubal Cabrera and Wilmer Flores struck out and Conforto hit a weak grounder to first.
Both teams went 1-2-3 in the sixth and as the top part of the frame ended, so too did deGrom’s evening as he would be replaced by Robert Gsellman in the seventh. The Mets starter turned reliever pitched an impressive seventh retiring the Dodgers in order. As the Mets came to bat, a trickle of hope came as a result of a misplaced ball by Bellinger off the bat of Nimmo resulting in a triple with one out. However, Todd Frazier struck out looking on what looked like a fast ball right down the middle and Cabrera grounded out as another opportunity was wasted.
The Dodgers broke the game open in the eighth as they scored five times. The first run was as a result of a suicide squeeze by Hernandez scoring Bellinger. The final four runs came courtesy of a grand slam by Matt Kemp. It was the second consecutive game the Mets have allowed a grand slam and it made the score 8-2. Dodger reliever Yimi Garcia replaced Ferguson in the bottom of the eighth and allowed a solo home run to Jose Bautista to account for the final run of the game.
Mets’ rookie Drew Smith made his major league debut in the top of the ninth. He walked Bellinger and Grandal but escaped the inning unscathed to start his major league career with a 0.00 ERA. Dodger reliever Edward Paredes entered in the ninth to get the final three outs sending the Mets to their fifth straight loss.
It was a frustrating night for the Mets. They could not get the clutch hit when they needed it and even played sloppily in the field as Conforto misjudged two fly balls. Even the usually unflappable deGrom showed some frustration as he barked at home plate umpire Ed Hilcox on what he felt were some missed ball and strike calls. After the fourth inning, he flew his glove in disgust in the dugout right after having a few more words with Hilcox.
And if that wasn’t enough heartache for one evening, Mickey Callaway dropped an unexpected bombshell at his post-game press conference when he announced that Sunday’s scheduled starter, Jason Vargas, would be placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a calf injury incurred during “conditioning”. Righthander Chris Flex will replace Vargas on the active roster but as of this writing, has not been named the starter. Rich Hill, who is 1-2 with a 4.99 ERA will pitch for the Dodgers. The Mets will be trying to break an 11 game losing streak to LA in the final game of the series. The two teams will see each other again at Dodgers Stadium in early September.