LOS ANGELES – The weekend did not go quite the way the Mets imagined it would open their 11-day, 10-game tour of Southern California, but their rules became pretty clear: Leave the hotel doors open, the television on And make sure Pete Alonso keeps swinging.
After spotting the Los Angeles Dodgers the first two games of a four-game set, the Mets stormed back Saturday and Sunday to earn a split. They slipped past the Dodgers’ two best starting pitchers, ambushing Walker Buehler and outlasting Julio Urías. Despite still being their own best starter, the Mets nevertheless headed for their next stop on the trip, San Diego, sporting the National League’s best record at 37-19.
“Last man standing, I guess. I don’t know, “Mets manager Buck Showalter said before adding the Dodgers:” They’re a really good team. I’m really proud of our guys battling back these last two days. “
Third baseman Eduardo Escobar, whose 10-pitch struggle with Brusdar Graterol produced an eighth inning sacrifice fly in Sunday’s 5-4, 10-inning thriller, said the four games “felt like a playoff atmosphere.” Designed hitter JD Davis, who doubled home on the go-ahead run in the 10th, said this weekend shows “we’re just as good as they are.”
Growing evidence would suggest he is correct.
With the team’s aces, Jacob DeGrom (stress reaction, right shoulder) and Max Scherzer (oblique) back at home, the Mets narrowly avoided what would have been another disastrous injury when Francisco Lindor, the team’s All-Star shortstop, checked. His hotel suite upon the Mets’ arrival in Los Angeles and promptly slammed his right middle finger into a door. He wound up with a fracture in the tip of the finger, sat out Thursday night’s series opener and considered himself fortunate to be back in the lineup the next day.
The pain was so severe in the moment, Lindor said, that he jogged around for a few minutes hoping it would calm down. He was thankful that the fingernail remained intact and the door didn’t catch any more of his finger.
“I feel like if it was somewhere higher, it would probably be surgery or something,” he said.
The Mets were blanked 2-0 in their absence on Thursday, then lost, 6-1, in their return on Friday night. And both Lindor and Showalter said they knew exactly what was coming that night: Mookie Betts opened the bottom of the first inning with a hard ground ball to Lindor, whose throwing was tested right away.
“I haven’t anticipated a ground ball this much in years,” Lindor said afterward through a sparkling – and relieved – smile. “I knew the first one was coming to me.”
Back at the team hotel, Lindor said the accident scene was left intact, indicating that the dangerous door was leading to his balcony.
“The door was still open,” he said, still smiling. “I’m not touching that door. I ‘ll deal with the sun. “
Hands prove to be a big theme this weekend. During the series it was revealed that one of Scherzer’s dogs, Rafi, had his owner’s pitching hand.
Scherzer said he missed throwing one day, convinced everyone in a tweet that everything would be all right and said “this is literally a non story.” Considering his $ 43 million salary, and how much the team will rely on him as the calendar shifts to October, Scherzer might forgive the Mets and their fans for being concerned.
In the absences of Scherzer and DeGrom, who threw a 19-pitch bullpen session on Saturday in New York, other starters like David Peterson and Trevor Williams are stepping up. The Mets are now 6-0 in Peterson’s start this season with his unusual exit in the middle of Mookie Betts’ fourth-inning at-bat Saturday.
Peterson had limited the Dodgers to one run over three and two-thirds innings, and was facing Betts on one and two outs and the Mets clinging to a 5-4 lead. Betts scalded the first pitch he saw down the left-field line for a foul. Showalter immediately appeared, calling for reliever Colin Holderman, who promptly retired bets on a so-called third strike to end the threat.
With Showalter deftly maneuvering the pitching to his liking all weekend, as he has so often this year, Alonso was able to take over on Saturday. He smashed a two-run homer into the third and then drilled a three-run blast over the right-center field fence into the seventh. His five RBIs in the 9-4 win gave him 53 in 55 games.
Informed that his second homer Saturday moved him into a tie for 10th place on the Mets’ all-time home run list at 122, Alonso said, “That’s sick. I didn’t know that. I just want to keep it going. “
“He’s hot. His nitro zone is down in the zone and all the damage he’s done to us has been down, “said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, expressing frustration with some of his pitchers. “A guy that can hit a line drive out to the right-center field at night at Dodger Stadium, if he touches it, it’s 100 miles an hour, he’s pretty dangerous. So when you don’t execute, you’re really going to pay. “
At least Sunday’s comeback came during a day’s game, allowing their fans – including one in particular – to be well-rested entering the workweek.
“The grit in this team is amazing,” said Steven A. Cohen, the team owner who was in the series for Los Angeles on Friday afternoon. “Just watching them come back, how fun is that? You ‘re never out of it. The real problem is now I can’t turn the TV off. I’ve got to stay up and watch. Before, you could turn the TV off and say, ah, you’re not going to come back. You’ve got to leave the TV on now. “
And, of course, you have to leave the doors open.
“Stay away from the doors,” Lindor said. “Please stay away, I’m telling you.”