Thursday, March 23, 2023

Mets rally late to clear series split against Dodgers

Mets Rally Late To Clear Series Split Against Dodgers

LOS ANGELES – The Mets sealed a series split against the Dodgers by doing something old and doing something new. Old: Rallying late, coming back and taking the lead. NEW: Buck Showalter uses his close in the eighth inning instead of the ninth to face the three best hitters at the top of the Dodgers order. After a late-game drama, the Mets defeated the Dodgers 5-4, sticking to their old moves in 10 innings, and in doing so, the Amazons proved they could hang with the best in the league.

Edwin Diaz defended the Mets lead by two runs when Showalter flipped the script and called his close for the eighth inning. Diaz was out of the lights, prompting Mookie Bates and Freddie Freeman to fly out before freezing Tree Turner on a slider inside. In an unusual scene, Diaz went off the mound and into the dugout instead of high-finging his catcher after a shutout innings.

“He was facing three guys who could have won MVP,” said Showalter, who said he didn’t use Diaz for more boycotts because he wanted to save him for Monday. “We put our best man there.”

There was still more work to do. Setup man Seth Lugo was ninth, and he immediately scored a leadoff home run for Dodgers catcher Will Smith, who parked an opposite field teeter in right field and cut the Mets’ lead into a moderately short run. Lugo could not stand. He surrendered a double to Chris Taylor and an RBI single to Eddie Alvarez as the Dodgers tied the game and sent it into the extra innings.

The Mets (37–19) came back early when JD Davis ripped a double in the center and scored in the 10th inning to score second-place free runner Pete Alonso. With all of Showalter’s high-leverage relievers already used, it was up to Adonis Medina to try and lock in his first career save. Medina, who was again tasked with facing those three dangerous hitters—Bates, Freeman and Turner—dismissed his first two batsmen, but a catcher’s interference placed Turner at first base with a tying run, Freeman. Runner Gavin Lux, on third.

“It felt like a playoff atmosphere,” Eduardo Escobar said.

But the 25-year-old reliever on the mound, who was pitching in his 11th big-league game, didn’t put any extra emphasis on the situation. Adonis focused on his decisive work, then he ended an incredibly exciting series against the Dodgers to dismiss Smith in the final. The Mets lost the first two games, got out of that shock, came back and took the final two. Later, Eduardo Escobar said that Medina’s performance was “the best” and that he “thrown like a veteran, like he’s a big boy.”

“For me, this has been one of the biggest moments of my career,” Medina said. “With the team trusting me, pitching at that big spot, it’s really everything to me.”

Down a run in the eighth, Francisco Lindor initially lit the spark of the rally when he opened the innings with a ground-rule double to right field. Then Pete Alonso, as clutch as he gets for the Mets right now, collected his 54th RBI of the year when he ripped a game-tying double to left field that easily scored Lindor. . Moments from Escobar gave the Mets the lead, a forward sacrificial flying into right field, and Tomas Nido pads up with an RBI single to run the insurance.

If the Mets can mount one of their usual comebacks against the NL West juggernaut Dodgers while they’re missing aces Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer on the injured list, it should be a surprise when they next face what can they do. The Dodgers arrive at Citi Field on August 30, and if all goes according to plan, their Cy Young arms should be back in rotation by then.

“Hopefully the exam is at the end of the year. I think it was like a quiz,” Davis said. “We weren’t at full force. We didn’t have the degrom, we didn’t have the shertz. … just to come here and be different, that says a lot about our team. Just like Uncle Stevie said, we’ve got some patience on this team. Don’t count us.”

But late-game theatrics were only made possible by Trevor Williams and Amazon’s bullpen, which kept them in the game long enough to return the offense and rally into eighth.

Williams conceded two runs in five innings and six hits on 86 pitches in his fifth start of the season for the Mets, including without a walk and five strikes. His season ERA remained at 3.58, as he only allowed runs, which came off Tree Turner’s bat, in the form of a first innings, two-run home run. Then Williams headed for a solid outing.

“It’s a testament to our patience and it’s not a testament to our people,” Williams said. “To get the win we got last night and come back today to win and fight extra innings, that’s something special.”

The right-handed batsman gave up a ton of hard contact—five of six hits allowed at 91 mph or more—while balls falling for outs were also crushed. But, despite a never-ending threat from the Dodgers lineup, Williams overtook 14 of his next 18 batsmen after a home run to Turner and retired.

Showalter said he would lovingly watch Williams do what he did on Sunday, as it allowed the captain to save some of his relief weapons for the next Test: a three-match series against the Padres, starting Monday. The Mets passed the first test, or quiz, of their 10-game, 11-day tour of Southern California. They will try to continue to build on their last two matches at Chavez Ravine to prove what some people already know: don’t count the Mets.

“The last man standing,” said Showalter. “They’re a really good team. Really proud of our players coming back after the first two games. Settled into the timezone and everything. Also beat two really good pitchers in the last two days. Not getting much sleep.” Big change. I’m proud of everyone.”


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