With Dom Smith and Jonathan Villar resting, the Mets marked only four regulars in the lineup to support Joey Lucchesi’s redemption efforts, and unsurprisingly it wasn’t enough to overcome the title contenders in San Diego.
Receiving seven shutout innings and ten strikeouts from Blake Snell, the Padres beat the Mets 2-0 for their second win of the series Friday night in San Diego. Snell has not pitched like the ace the Padres have hoped he would be so far this season, but found his Cy Young form setting down the first fourteen Mets batters.
Joey Lucchesi, who the Padres traded to the Mets this past offseason, looked for revenge against his former team but found himself behind early. Manny Machado opened the scoring in the top of the first with a deep home run to left-center field, punctuating the plate appearance with a righteous bat flip. Despite digging himself into an early 1-0 deficit, Lucchesi settled down, finishing the inning by striking out Fernando Tatís Jr. with a 3-2 fastball that pierced the bottom outside corner.
Francisco Lindor came within ten feet of tying the game early on. In the top of the fourth inning, Lindor sent a ball 390 feet into dead center field that was an ocean breeze away from tying the game, but it settled harmlessly into Jurickson Profar’s glove.
After pitching a perfect second and third inning, Lucchesi gave up a one-out double to Jake Cronenworth in the bottom of the fourth that nicked Billy McKinney’s glove in right field. With Tatís up to bat, Lucchesi then snagged a grounder and caught Cronenworth in a pickle between second and third base, and then ended the inning forcing a groundout to Eric Hosmer.
Lucchesi quickly found himself in trouble in the bottom of the fifth allowing a Will Meyers bunt single followed by a one-out single to catcher Webster Rivas, putting runners on first and third. Snell’s sacrifice bunt towards the middle of the infield advanced Rivas to second but held Meyers at third, and the Mets pulled Lucchesi after pitching exactly twice through the Padres order. Jacob Barnes kept the inning blank by fielding a groundout from Tommy Pham, helping the Mets escape their biggest jam of the night thus far.
Lindor broke Snell’s no-hitter in the top of the seventh inning with a base hit to left field that bounced past Pham and rolled to the wall. Lindor advanced to third base on the error to set up the game-tying run, but he would advance no farther. James McCann couldn’t send him home, unable to check his swing on a high fastball to register the first out of the inning. Alonso couldn’t cash in the run, either, battling Snell in a nine-pitch plate appearance but popping out to Hosmer for the second out of the inning. Snell then struck out Brandon Drury to end his seven-inning no-run outing, flexing on the mound and stamping out the Mets’ best chance to tie the game.
After pitching a scoreless sixth inning, Drew Smith allowed the first two runners on in the bottom of the seventh, giving up a leadoff double to Meyers and hitting Profar. Rivas gifted the defense a poorly executed bunt, however, allowing Smith to throw Meyers out at third before Drury turned the double play. Smith couldn’t finish the inning, however, walking pinch hitter Tucupita Marcano before exiting the game.
Jeurys Familia entered the game and promptly walked Pham, bringing up Machado with two outs and the bases loaded. Familia then walked Machado on four pitches forcing in Profar, and then halted the damage with a Cronenworth flyout to end the inning.
After a Kevin Pillar strikeout in the top of the ninth inning, Lindor once again sparked a potential rally with a one-out single, just the second hit of the game for the Mets with both credited to Lindor. With another opportunity to tie the game, McCann then took an inside pitch six inches off the plate that was called strike three.
Questionable strike calls at the plate annoyed the Mets dugout all night, coming to a climax with the McCann punch-out. McCann argued against the inside strike, prompting an immediate ejection, which prompted manager Luis Rojas to voice his own vitriol and join McCann in the clubhouse. Alonso kept the inning alive with a two-out single bringing the winning run to the plate, but Drury helplessly swung through strike three to end the ballgame.
With only four regular position players and their occasional fifth starter against one of the league’s two best teams, that the Mets stayed within striking distance again for the entirety of the game testifies to the team’s much-improved defense and bullpen. Even having just two of Dom Smith, J.D. Davis, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, and Jeff McNeil added into the lineup might have yielded a more positive result for the team, but the record book still shows two straight losses against the NL West titans.
The Mets will face the Padres for game three of their four-game series tonight at 10:10 PM, with Jacob deGrom taking the hill against Joe Musgrove.
*illar of the game
Neither—Pillar went 0-4 with two strikeouts with minimal influence in left field, while Villar grounded out pinch-hitting in his only appearance in the game.
Win Probability Added
Big Mets winner: Francisco Lindor, +19.9% WPA
Big Mets loser: Brandon Drury, -18% WPA
Mets pitchers: 8.8% WPA
Mets hitters: -58.8% WPA
Teh aw3s0mest play: Lindor single in the seventh inning
Teh sux0rest play: Machado home run