On Friday afternoon the Mets won handily by pounding the ball all over Citi Field.
On Saturday afternoon, they mustered just three hits in the first seven innings and followed up that cathartic win by losing 3-2 to one of the worst teams in the league.
The snoozer against the Diamondbacks showed that even this team (easily the most complete roster, top to bottom, the Mets have had since the 2015 World Series bunch) can turn in a dud every now and then.
Mets hitters collected two hits off Arizona’s Zac Gallen, one of the shinier scales on the Diamondbacks, who was making his first start of the season after dealing with shoulder issues during the lockout. Because Gallen, like most of the pitchers in the league, is not ramped up for a full workload right now, he was removed after four innings and 66 pitches despite sinking his fangs deeply into the Mets’ lineup.
It seemed like it would only be a matter of time until the Mets took the lead against the Arizona bullpen, which was the worst in the National League last season and came into Saturday’s game striking out just 5.86 hitters per nine innings, almost two fewer than any other NL squad.
That eventual breakthrough ended up being too little too late, as the trio of Kyle Nelson, Sean Poppen and Joe Mantiply kept the Mets to just one hit in the middle innings before Ian Kennedy and Mark Melancon completed the Snakes’ road victory.
Kennedy did his best to ruin his team’s party, though, as a 3-0 lead quickly shrank to 3-2 in the eighth when Starling Marte obliterated his second baseball in as many days. The Mets wouldn’t get any closer after Marte’s two-run homer, though, putting a damper on what was shaping up to be a euphoric weekend.
“We just didn’t score enough runs today, obviously,” Buck Showalter said after the letdown. “We knew that Gallen was going to be a challenge. He’s a solid pitcher and we knew coming into the series that he’d be a real challenge for us.”
Even if they never fully came through, the Mets’ offense was within striking range all afternoon thanks to their starting pitcher, Carlos Carrasco. Coming off a nightmarish season that was plagued by health problems and just being straight up bad, Carrasco has a rejuvenated look to him so far in 2022. In his first start of the year, the 35-year-old kept the Nationals to two hits and one run in 5.2 efficient innings. It was basically the same story on Saturday. The Diamondbacks got three hits off him in five frames and added two more base runners on walks. Eight strikeouts — his most since Sept. 20, 2020 — helped Carrasco keep the D-backs off the scoreboard though.
Things got interesting for him in the top of the fourth when the two adults in Arizona’s childish offense, Ketel Marte and David Peralta, singled and doubled respectively. With them occupying second and third base with nobody out, Carrasco hunkered down for back-to-back strikeouts. The first came on a fastball at the top of the strike zone that froze Christian Walker for strike three. The second was at the expense of Pavin Smith, who couldn’t hold his check swing on a changeup in the dirt. Showalter chose to intentionally walk up-and-comer Seth Beer to pitch to catcher Carson Kelly instead. Kelly, who is now 0-for-19 on the young season and left six men on base Saturday, flew out to the left field warning track to officially get the Mets out of trouble.
“Everything I did in my last start, I tried to bring today,” Carrasco said, also stating that he thought Saturday’s outing was his best start as a Met. “My arm is getting better with every start, every bullpen. Everything felt good today.”
Carrasco’s final pitch of the day was one of his best. He got Marte to swing through a 3-2 changeup on the outside corner, stranding a runner at second and keeping the score tied at zero.
The two guys who immediately relieved Carrasco ended up doing so in name only.
Both Joely Rodriguez and Seth Lugo were tagged for earned runs in the seventh inning, with Lugo coughing up two. With Rodriguez on the mound to begin his second inning of duty, Beer helicoptered a single just out of Francisco Lindor’s reach on the edge of the outfield grass. Unlikely hero Sergio Alcantara threw the hardest punch of the day once Lugo came in, taking the right-hander deep for his first dinger of the year.
“We’ve been spoiled by him for a long time here,” Showalter said of the dependable Lugo. “He’s pitched some very meaningful innings already for us this year and he will again. It just wasn’t his day.”
Three batters later, Marte gave speedy center fielder Daulton Varsho a ride home with an RBI double, scoring Arizona’s all-important third run.
Eduardo Escobar, Robinson Cano and Dom Smith went peacefully for the Mets in the bottom of the ninth, failing to add to the brief eighth-inning outburst and wrapping up the club’s first home loss of 2022.
No baseball team can win them all, and if there was any game the Mets were going to lose in this series, it was Saturday’s against a legitimately good pitcher in Gallen. Still, letting this one slip away will sting for a bit, as the energy in Citi Field tried to will the Mets to a victory that never came. It will be onward and upward for this team, but they demonstrated on Saturday that despite their talent and overwhelmingly positive start, they are not immune to a frustrating loss.
Source: Berkshire mont