Thursday, September 1, 2022

Mets Take Series From Dodgers With Comeback


In the shadows: Pete Alonso facing Clayton Kershaw in the first inning around 4:30 p.m. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets, with four late runs, came back to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-3, on Thursday evening in the series finale to win this three-game set between the National League's finest.

The Mets also won the season series from the Dodgers, four wins to three, and they improve to 84-48, while the Dodgers fall to 90-40.

"It's a battle, a close battle between really good teams, it's good to establish that we can play with them in these seven games," said Mets Manager Buck Showalter after Thursday's win. "Let's face it, they're in a little different mode now, they're trying to get, obviously they're doing things that they want to down the road, they're trying to win, they got really good players, we were able to keep some of their best players from hurting us too much, so I thought the key was how well we pitched for three games. You have to match their pitching, and our guys did."

For the third straight day, it was a great pitching matchup, as Chris Bassitt, winner of four of his last five starts, took the mound for the Mets, against Clayton Kershaw, who was making his first start for the Dodgers since August 4, as he was out with a back issue. 

Bassitt got the the win to improve to 12-7, with a 3.32 ERA (earned run average), as he went six innings, allowing two runs (both earned) on six hits and three walks, with four strikeouts.

Kershaw took the no-decision, as he went five innings, allowing just one run on one hit and three walks, with six strikeouts. Chris Martin, who gave up two runs in the sixth inning, took the loss out of the Dodgers bullpen.

Chris Bassitt pitching to Freddie Freeman in the first inning with Trea Turner at first base. Photo by Jason Schott.

Bassitt got off to a nice start with a scoreless first inning, as he worked around a Trea Turner single with three put-outs at first base.

The Mets had a golden opportunity in the bottom of the first, as Starling Marte drew a one-out walk, Francisco Lindor singled, and Pete Alonso walked to load the bases.

Darin Ruf popped out to third base, Mark Canha walked to bring in Marte and make it 1-0 Mets, but incredibly, Kershaw got Jeff McNeil to pop out to third also.

The Dodgers responded in the top of the second, as Justin Turner got a one-out double, and Gavin Lux followed with a single to center field.

Trayce Thompson walked to load the bases, and then Chris Taylor, in the first action in this series, laced one down the right field line, and Turner and Lux scored easily, but Thompson was gunned down at the plate, so the Dodgers were up, 2-1.

Thompson was at third when the throw went from Marte to second base, so third base coach Dino Ebel sent him to the plate, but Lindor made a strike to the plate to throw him out. Mookie Betts then grounded out to end the threat.

Kershaw retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the second, as he struck out Eduardo Escobar, as he went around on a check swing, James McCann on a deep fly ball to center field, and then a strike out of Nimmo.

The Dodgers' longtime ace and future Hall of Famer then retired the Mets in order in the third, fourth, and fifth innings, a streak in which he got 13 Mets out beginning with the McNeil pop-up to end the first, and that was how he closed out his outing.

Meanwhile, Bassitt also settled in, as he worked around a Justin Turner hit in the fourth by getting Lux to hit into a double play, then in the fifth, Mookie Betts got a two-out single, but Trea Turner hit into a force out to end that inning; and then in the sixth, he struck out Freddie Freeman and Will Smith, but then allowed walks to Justin Turner and Max Muncy, who then advanced on a wild pitch, but got Lux to ground out to first to end the threat.

Chris Martin came on for Los Angeles in the bottom of the sixth, and Marte greeted him with a single, which was followed by a double up the right-center field gap from Lindor that brought Marte in and tied the game at 2. 

Alonso struck out, and with Ruf at-bat, Lindor stole third base. Ruf then hit a sacrifice fly into the left field corner to bring home Lindor and make it 3-2 Mets.  "I'm hoping that's a start for him, he's already had some big hits for us. He'll be a weapon for us," Showalter said of Ruf, who's been struggling. Canha then grounded to third to end the inning.

The Mets went to the bullpen for the seventh inning, turning to right-hander Trevor May. He walked Thompson to start the frame, then struck out Taylor, came back from 3-0 down in the count to strike out Betts (Thompson stole second on strike three), and then got Trea Turner to fly out to center field.

Caleb Ferguson came on for L.A. in the seventh, and he retired the first two Mets before James McCann laced a double up the left-center field gap to keep the inning alive.

That brought Wednesday night's hero, Nimmo, to the plate, and where he did it on defense in that game, he did it with his bat and hustle, as he hit a towering pop-up to right field that landed between Betts and Lux, which brought in McCann to make it 4-2.

Nimmo raced all the way to second on that hit, and it proved to be very valuable when Marte singled to left field, and he scored easily to make it 5-2, as Taylor airmailed it to the backstop. If he didn't take second, Nimmo likely only gets to third on that hit.

The Mets turned to their closer Edwin Diaz in the eighth since the Dodgers had the heart of their order coming up. It was a rare case he faced some adversity, as he walked Freeman and hit Smith with a pitch.

Muncy followed with a blast to right field that Nimmo raced over and caught on the warning track, and then in a near replay of Wednesday night, Justin Turner crushed one to left-center that Nimmo caught at the fence (the first one was at the right-center field fence).

However, this time Turner got an RBI, as Freeman, who took third on Muncy's hit, came into score and made it 5-3 Mets. Lux struck out to end the threat.

In the bottom of the eighth, with Heath Hembree on for Los Angeles, Daniel Vogelbach came up with one out as a pinch-hitter for Ruf and drew a walk. The Mets then sent in speedster Terrance Gore, who they called up on Wednesday, to pinch-run, and he promptly stole second base. Canha then popped up to first base before McNeil grounded out to short to end the inning.

Adam Ottavino, as he now is often doing, came on for the ninth, and he struck out Thompson and Taylor before getting Betts to fly out to end it, and give the right-hander his third save of the season, all in the last week.

Adam Ottavino pitching to Chris Taylor in the ninth. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets’ lead in the National League East remains at three games, as the Atlanta Braves (81-51) beat Colorado, 3-0, Thursday night.

The Mets take on the Washington Nationals in a three-game set starting Friday night at Citi Field. In his postgame press conference on Thursday night, Showalter announced that the Mets starters for the series will be: David Peterson on Friday night, Max Scherzer on Saturday night, seeking his 200th career victory; and Carlos Carrasco on Sunday afternoon, in his first start since August 15. Buck said this was meant to "give everybody an extra day and take advantage of keeping Pete (Peterson) out there (in the rotation), kind of on task, where he doesn't get too far away from it."

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