In every baseball season, there are games that will test a team’s resilience. After a rough loss, how will you bounce back? The 2019 Mets responded to that question in their own way: flat. A day after an epic meltdown by arguably the best pitcher on their staff, they received a wonderful performance by arguably their worst. But that doesn’t matter if you don’t hit.
Jason Vargas took on Hyun-Jin Ryu in Los Angeles for the finale of their four-game set, trying to salvage a split of the series and reclaim some dignity after blowing an 8-3 lead the night before. One could say that they ended up one-for-two. After the Mets went out in order in the top if the first, Vargas got off to his customary rocky start. Chris Taylor hit his second pitch of the night deep into the gap in left center. J.D. Davis gamely tried for a diving catch, but missed horribly and the ball went to the wall, Taylor ending up on third with a leadoff triple. Max Muncy drove him home instantly with another line drive, this one to the right-center field gap. After David Freese struck out, the lethal Cody Bellinger drew a walk. Enrique Hernandez sent a fly ball to deep center, corralled by Carlos Gomez. Muncy was nearly doubled off second, but Gomez’s inaccurate throw allowed him to go to third. Alex Verdugo drew a walk. With the bases loaded, the seasoned Met fan could sense that this game would get out of hand rather quickly, with the veteran catcher Russell Martin due up. It didn’t though, as Martin hit a bouncer to third to end the frame, the Mets lucky to be down only 1-0.
The game continued apace like this, the Mets unable to generate any sustained offense and Vargas able to wiggle out of whatever trouble found him. He walked the pitcher with one out in the second, but didn’t allow a run. He gave up two hits in the third, but got Verdugo to hit into a double play and didn’t allow a run. Martin singled leading off the fourth, but Vargas didn’t allow a run, nor did he allow one in the fifth, sixth or seventh. This would have been hailed as an outstanding performance if the Mets could win it. Instead, their offense could not solve Ryu. They garnered a walk and a single in the second and a base hit in the fifth. They missed a golden chance in the seventh when Pete Alonso led off with a double, but didn’t move from there. Wilson Ramos had a pinch single in the eighth with one out, but Amed Rosario followed that by grounding into a force play. That would be all for Ryu as LA manager Dave Roberts waved in his closer, Kanley Jansen, for a four-out save. Mets manager Mickey Callaway countered by sending up the lefty-hitting Dominic Smith for Davis. Smith was no match, striking out on three straight cutters. The Dodgers got their insurance in the bottom half. Freese boomed a double to right field with one out that Conforto somehow kept in the ballbpark, crashing into the wall. Bellinger hit another tracer to right that Conforto ran down. Of all the batted balls in the inning, the softest was the one that produced a run, Hernandez looping a base hit in front of Conforto. As was custom in this game, the Mets went down in order in the ninth.
New York will head to Arizona, where they have gotten well in the past. Here’s hoping this visit to the spa is restorative, with Zack Wheeler facing Jon Duplantier.