Some help arrived on Saturday for the Mets, but left-handed Daniel Vogelbach was in the dugout, not in the lineup.
And on another quiet night for their bats, and with 1-9 looking the same as it did a few months ago, the Mets looked like they needed more reinforcements.
They made a strong case for adding another right bat as the 2-1 Padres silenced them in front of 39,359 at City Field on a sweltering summer night, losing their third game in a row for just the second time this season.
The Mets fell to 58–37, with their NL East lead falling just polygames above the Braves following their loss and Atlanta’s 7–2 victory over the Angels. In early June, the Mets had a 10-game lead ¹/₂.
This continued until the ninth inning, but the Mets finally staged a rally to keep from being eliminated from the game. J.D. Davis, clinging to his right DH spot by a thread, took a single to the right to score Pete Alonso. But with runners on the corners, Thomas Nido, a batsman despite a bruised arm suffered the night before, with Jeff McNeil sitting around on the bench, jumped into second place to end the threat against closer Padres Taylor Rodgers.
Manager Buck Showalter said that McNeal was ready to take on the lefty Rodgers but was comfortable with Nido on the spot. However, the Mets’ problems were more serious than the selection of the last batter in the game.
“We had some opportunities, we put some people in there,” Showalter said after his team went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. “We just couldn’t get that hit to get over the hump.”
Using a heavy right lineup that included Davis (2-for-4 with two strikeouts) in the DH against left-hander Blake Snell, the Mets stuck eight runners on another night when there were no big hits. They have scored 10 points in their last five games.
Chris Bassitt (seven innings, two runs) was an excellent start, in which he briefly flirted with perfection, but even perfection might not have been enough because the Mets offense had no pulse.
Starling Marte turned out to be the biggest culprit. The right fielder scored three goals in the match 0 for 4, while leaving three on base.
Vogelbach, the batter who was signed by the Pirates on Friday, is a right-handed killer who is likely to make his Mets debut on Sunday. His DH partner for now is Davis, who returned to the dugout from his strikeout in the seventh inning after hearing the hoots of the crowd that would likely see another right DH in the last few months of the season.
Davis was a problem, but wasn’t a problem on Saturday. The Mets advanced a runner to scoring position in the second, third, fourth, and fifth innings and went blank each time.
“They found a way to transport two. It usually doesn’t hold up,” Showalter said. “It’s just a place where [runs] difficult to find. I have a lot of confidence that this will change.”
Chances dried up after Snell was promoted to a disappointing ninth place.
While the offense missed its opportunities, Bassitt did not waste the field.
The Padres slugger didn’t reach base until fifth, and San Diego didn’t hit until sixth—under disputed circumstances.
Bassitt, who scored 11 points, a career high, walked none, hit one batter with a pitch and gave up four hits. He appeared to be out of the sixth inning when the top zone slider surprised Manny Machado, who watched him go through. Bassitt took a few steps towards the dugout when he realized that what could have been the third hit was actually the first ball, as umpire Jim Wolfe called it.
Asked how he saw the field, Bassitt said: “Like everyone else. But that’s part of the game. It’s okay that he missed it. I just have to make a much better pitch after that.”
The next pitch—a “terrible” slider, Bassitt said—slid into the middle of the plate, and Machado tore it to the left, hitting a two-run home run that sent Bassitt into a deep crouch and the park fell into stunned silence.
The swing ruined a brilliant performance by the Mets right-hander, who, starting in a 3¹/₃ inning, seven runs against the Padres on June 8, strung together six consecutive quality starts in which he posted a 2.43 ERA.
Bassitt is back in shape and the Mets have every chance of making the playoffs with a potentially dominant rotation if Jacob de Grom returns and is healthy.
But the rotation was far from the minds of the Mets. Some help arrived for the attack, but clearly not enough, with a week and a half before the exchange deadline.
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