Considering how their afternoon went and their evening started, the New York Mets took some solace in moral victories Friday night.
But the loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the start of a potentially season-defining stretch also underscored how quickly the Mets need to start recording some real wins.
The Mets will look to even their series with the Dodgers when they host the defending World Series champions in the middle game of a three-game set on Saturday night.
Taijuan Walker (7-7, 3.89 ERA) is slated to oppose Walker Buehler (12-2, 2.13 ERA) in a battle of All-Star right-handers.
The Dodgers squandered a four-run lead Friday but escaped with the win when Will Smith hit a two-run homer leading off the top of the 10th inning and Kenley Jansen wriggled out of a jam in the bottom half as Los Angeles earned a 6-5 victory.
The Mets got just one runner beyond first base in the first 6 2/3 innings before six straight batters reached base during a four-run rally. New York had the tying or potential game-winning run at the plate in each of the final three innings and stranded two runners in the 10th, when Tomas Nido, the last player on the bench, flied out to left.
The rally at least provided some energy on a day in which the Mets learned ace Jacob deGrom (elbow injury) wouldn’t throw for at least two more weeks and shortstop Javier Baez (back) was placed on the 10-day injured list.
But the Mets, who played the first of 13 straight games against the Dodgers and the National League West-leading San Francisco Giants, also missed a chance to move into first place in the East. Instead, New York remained a half-game out of first but fell into third behind the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves. The Braves’ 4-2 win over the Washington Nationals, coupled with the Phillies’ 6-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, created the tie atop the division.
“It’s tough — everyone wants to win, but there’s a lot of positives in that game, being down 4-0 and clawing back and fighting back,” said Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil, who had a two-run single in the sixth. “We were right there, had the winning run at the plate the last inning.”
The Dodgers weren’t concerned with style points following a win that improved them to 2-12 in extra-inning games and 14-21 in games decided by one run.
With the victory, the Dodgers remained five games behind the first-place Giants while increasing their lead over the third-place San Diego Padres to five games in the race for the first wild card.
“Honestly, it just feels good to win that game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I don’t think anyone in that clubhouse cares how we did it.”
Walker lost his fourth straight start last Sunday, when he gave up three runs over six innings as the Mets fell to the Phillies 3-0. He is 0-4 with a 9.86 ERA in five starts since the All-Star Game, when he tossed an inning for the NL.
Buehler, who leads the NL in ERA and was selected to the All-Star Game but did not pitch, earned the win Sunday after surrendering one run over six innings in the Dodgers’ 8-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Walker is 3-1 with a 4.67 ERA in seven career starts against the Dodgers. Buehler is 0-0 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts against the Mets.
–Field Level Media