Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Dodgers Live The Lux Life As They Edge Mets In Opener

Mookie Betts connecting on a double in the third inning, and he would come in to score. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets lost a tough one, 4-3, to the Dodgers on Tuesday night at Citi Field in the opener of this massive three-game series between the National League's best.

The Dodghers were led by Gavin Lux, who had two hits and three RBIs, while the Mets got home runs from Starling Marte and Mark Canha.

It was the 90th win of the season for the Dodgers, who improve to 90-38, an astounding 52 games over .500. It is the second-fastest the Dodgers have reached this plateau, as the 2017 team did it in 126 games. They are now 45-22 on the road, meaning they have won an equal number of games at Dodger Stadium and away. They are 19-6 in their last 25 road games, and they love playing at Citi Field, as they are now 14-1 over their last 15 games here, dating back to May 28, 2016.

The Mets fell to 82-48, their second straight loss, but their lead in the National League East remains at three games over the Atlanta Braves (79-51), who lost to the Colorado Rockies, 3-2, at home.

The Mets got on the board first against Dodgers starter Andrew Heaney, who entered this one with a record of 2-1 and a sterling 1.94 earned run average ERA, and this would be his tenth start of the season.

Brandon Nimmo led off the bottom of the first with a single, then Starling Marte laid down a bunt that Heaney fielded and three away at first base, so Nimmo raced around to score and make it 1-0.

Marte made it all the way to third base, and Francisco Lindor was then hit by a pitch to give them Mets two on base and none out.

Heaney recovered to strike out Pete Alonso, then Lindor got caught trying to steal second, and Darin Ruf struck out to end the first.

Mets starter Taijuan Walker worked around a walk and a single to cruise through the first two innings, but he ran into trouble in the third.

Austin Barnes got it going with a single, then Mookie Betts followed with a double off the fence in left-center field. After Walker struck out Trea Turner and got Freddie Freeman to hit a soft pop-out to third base, he walked Max Munch to load the bases.

Ex-Yankee Joey Gallo then got hit by a pitch in the back to force in a run, and that was followed by a Gavin Lux single through the left side to bring in too and make it 3-1 Dodgers. Trayce Thompson struck out to end the threat.

Joey Gallo taking one for the team to bring in the Dodgers first run. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets bounced back, as Marte crushed one to left field for a solo shot, his 15th home run of the season, in the third inning, and Mark Canha got one of his own in the fourth, his 11th of the season, to tie the game at three.

In the fifth, the Mets had a big chance to add to it, as Nimmo and Lindor singled, but Alonso struck out to end the inning, the third K of the night to that point for the Mets first baseman.

Pete Alonso striking out in the fifth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

Showalter was asked afterwards what Heaney did so well to stymie Alonso, and he said, "Elevated fastball, it's the very en vogue thing people do nowadays, we talk about it before the game, you know exactly what they're going to try to do, and you know, try to get on top of it, but he kept getting it in a spot, sometimes there's one hitter where he gets it in a spot. Pete's got all that potential power in his hands, and it's hard to lay off of that and get on top of it, but that's one reason he's having such a good year for them, is he's kind of gotten into a position where he can use that pitch a lot more than he's been able to in the past."

Walker settled in after the third, and made it into the sixth, when he was pulled after Thompson got a one-out double on a dunker just behind third base. 

Seth Lugo relieved Walker, and he worked around walks to Barnes and Betts by getting Trea Turner to fly out to right field with the bases loaded to end the frame.

Since Thompson didn't come in to score, Walker's final line was: 5 1/3 innings, three runs (all earned), five hits, three walks, five strikeouts.

Heaney was pulled for Heath Hembree for the bottom of the sixth, and his final line was: five innings, seven hits, three runs (two earned), no walks, eight strikeouts.

The Mets got singles from Ruf, to open the inning, and Eduardo Escobar, with two outs, but James McCann struck out to end the bottom of the sixth.

Joely Rodriguez came on for the Mets in the top of the seventh, and he was greeted by a cue shot from Freeman past third base, empty because the shift was on, for a lead-off double. Muncy moved him over to third with a ground out to first base, then Will Smith (hitting for Gallo) was intentionally walked before Lux punched one back up the middle to score Freeman and make it 4-3 Dodgers.

That would be all for Rodriguez, and the Mets turned to big right-hander Tommy Hunter. Thompson was the first batter he faced, and he drew a walk to load the bases, but Cody Bellinger flew out to shallow left field and Barnes grounded back to Hunter to end the inning. Though they got a run, it was the second straight inning they left them loaded.  

The Dodgers bullpen shut down the Mets the rest of the way, as Alex Vesia, Evan Phillips, and Jake Reed pitched an inning apiece and only surrendered a walk and a hit. 

Reed, who started the season with the Mets, earned his first career save, while Hembree got the win to improve to 3-0.

Rodriguez wound up taking the loss for the Mets, falling to 0-4, and Showalter said of that happening despite him not giving up much hard contact, "It's unfortunate, and the game's not always fair. At the same time, there's, you know, Seth gave up a ball hit with the bases loaded that was caught. Seems like Joely's had a lot of tough luck, I look at some of these exit velocities and they're down, game's not always fair." 

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