Usually, when the Mets are having a bad year, they become baseball’s premier Hurler Health Spa: an MLB Lourdes where ailing pitchers go to get well. Such was the case this afternoon for veteran Seattle righty Yovani Gallardo. Gallardo only recently returned from a demotion to bullpen work and entered the game sporting a 4-7 record, with a 5.58 ERA and a 1.489 WHIP. Naturally, he held the Mets scoreless for five-plus innings.
Jacob deGrom started for the Mets, seeking his ninth straight winning start. He was thwarted in that effort, basically because of one bizarre inning and a truly egregious umpiring call. First, the bizarre portion. In the second, Nelson Cruz led off for the Mariners by banging the first pitch off deGrom’s shin for a base hit. This, of course, prompted the dreaded Visit From Ramirez, the Mets trainer who has a penchant for making minor injuries major. Fortunately in this case, Ramirez walked back to the dugout and deGrom continued pitching. He ran the count to 3-1 on the next hitter, Kyle Seager, who boomed a double over the head of Jay Bruce in right. Danny Valencia then struck out. deGrom ran the count to 0-2 on Mitch Haniger, but then tried to come inside with a fastball that hit Haniger square in the nose. While Haniger crawled on all fours and spat out teeth, deGrom — understandably — lost all his momentum. With the bases loaded and an 0-2 count on Jarrod Dyson, deGrom surrendered a soft liner that fell in front of Curtis Granderson in center, chasing home Cruz and Seager. Seattle added another run in the third when Ben Gamel led off with a base hit to center. Robinson Cano hit a double play ball to Neil Walker, who promptly threw it into left field to put runners on second and third. Cruz then hit a fly to deep left, on which Michael Conforto made a valiant but futile throw as Gamel scored. Conforto cemented his defensive bona fides on the next play, though, when his graceful swan dive robbed Seager of an RBI double and prevented any further scoring.
Now, for the umpiring. Gallardo began to unravel and the Mets put on a rally in the fifth. Granderson led off with a five-pitch walk. Wilmer Flores hit a bullet to short that chewed up Jean Segura. Jose Reyes worked the count to 3-1, then took a fastball way off the inside corner. However, rookie plate umpire Shane Livensparger did not agree and called strike two. The now-fuming Reyes popped out, Travis d’Arnaud and Conforto both flied out to right and Gallardo had escaped. The Mets got their first tally in the sixth, thanks to Gallardo coming to Earth and overmanaging by Scott Servais. Gallardo got two outs on two pitches to start things. DH Yoenis Cespedes wormed a base hit over second and Walker hit a liner to the same place. Servais, sensing a Gallardo implosion, immediately waved in righty Tony Zych — curious, seeing as the batter was the lefty Granderson. He walked on four pitches, Flores walked on five and the Mets were on the board. Reyes got the count to 3-1 before lining out. deGrom’s final line: six innings, five hits, ten strikeouts, one walk, two earned runs. So he deserved that ninth win, but his teammates couldn’t get it for him.
After that, it was a case of both teams squandering opportunities. The Mets had two on and nobody out in the top of the seventh and didn’t score. The Mariners did the same in the bottom half. The Mets went silently in the eighth. The Mariners had a golden chance in the eighth, but Seager was gunned down on a not-futile throw to the plate by Conforto. Flores led off the ninth with a double, and after a line out by Reyes and a ground out by d’Arnaud, hometown boy Conforto ripped a liner to shallow right that was butchered by Cano and the Mets had another run. Asdrubal Cabrera struck out to end it.
It’ll be Seth Lugo vs. James Paxton in the rubber game tomorrow.