A pair of close losses to the Los Angeles Dodgers have given the New York Mets a taste of what playoff baseball might be like. But each defeat has made the Mets’ path to experiencing the real thing more arduous.
The Mets had a 3 1/2-game lead in the National League East on Aug. 1. By Aug. 6, it was gone. And they enter Sunday night’s series finale against the Dodgers 1 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies as they try to salvage one of the three weekend games with Los Angeles.
Carlos Carrasco (0-0, 6.75 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Mets against Max Scherzer (9-4, 2.67) in a battle of veteran right-handers.
The Dodgers earned their second straight 10-inning victory Saturday night after Cody Bellinger’s RBI double gave Los Angeles a 2-1 win.
Mets starter Taijuan Walker flirted with joining Scherzer in the no-hitter club Saturday night. Walker tossed 6 1/3 no-hit innings before surrendering a game-tying homer to Will Smith — the Dodgers catcher whose two-run, 10th-inning homer Friday lifted Los Angeles to a 6-5 victory.
Walker was pulled with two outs in the seventh and the Mets put the first two runners on in the bottom half before Dodgers starter Walker Buehler and a trio of relievers combined to retire the final 12 New York hitters.
On Friday, the Mets scored four runs in the seventh to tie the game and sent the potential go-ahead or game-winning run to the plate in the next three innings. But coming close isn’t helping New York.
“We’ve been battling — we’ve been right there every single time, we just haven’t been able to get that extra run across,” Walker said. “(The Dodgers are) a playoff team, (it’s) a playoff atmosphere and we’re right there with them.”
The defending World Series champion Dodgers are seeking a ninth straight playoff berth, but the win Saturday inched them closer to their objective of avoiding the wild-card position.
Los Angeles moved within four games of the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants by virtue of their victory and the Giants’ 4-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies.
The Dodgers lead the San Diego Padres by six games in the race for the first wild card after the Padres fell 7-0 Saturday. They were no-hit by the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Tyler Gilbert in his first career start.
“I think everyone knows what’s on the line, what’s on the table,” Bellinger said. “So we’re just trying to take care of our business. That’s one thing we can control.”
Neither Carrasco nor Scherzer factored into the decision in their most recent starts Tuesday night, when heavy rains along the East Coast cut short their outings.
Carrasco was charged with four runs in one inning in the Mets’ 8-7 win over the Washington Nationals. The game was suspended with none out in the second inning and completed Wednesday.
Scherzer, making his second start since he was acquired from the Nationals July 30, allowed three hits and struck out six over 3 1/3 scoreless innings before a 104-minute delay ended his night in the Dodgers’ 5-0 win over the Phillies.
Carrasco has never faced the Dodgers.
Scherzer is 12-5 with a 2.70 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) against the Mets. He dominated New York in his second career no-hitter on Oct. 3, 2015, when Scherzer struck out 17 and walked none in the Nationals’ 2-0 win. Only a sixth-inning throwing error by Yunel Escobar kept Scherzer from throwing a perfect game.
–Field Level Media