After an uplifting series in Chicago in which the team took three out of four, the D-Backs will have to bounce back from two frustrating losses to avoid the opposite fate. This series has the feeling of two teams using the same playbook - good, young starting pitching combined with small ball and excellent baserunning - and one side executing more cleanly. To say the least, that has been a successful formula for baseball teams for quite some time, but it’s also exactly the style of baseball the D-Backs utilized earlier in the season and this series. Even after last night’s infuriating lack of offensive execution, you could be forgiven for feeling moderately confident as a fan before the game with Zac Gallen toeing the rubber after his second career complete game shutout opposite a team that is searching for it’s next identity amongst the youngsters. Instead, Gallen sandwiched that brilliance with one of his worst starts of the year as the Mets got on base with abandon and took advantage of every mistake from the Arizona ace and his backing crew.
The Mets set the tone early with as the top of the New York lineup blistered three out of the six pitches put into play in the bottom half of the first. Two of those ended their journey on a diving catch from Jake McCarthy, but one resulted in a Francisco Lindor double while a Pete Alonso single on a perfectly executed hit-and-run gave the Mets the first run of the game 1-0. The D-Backs threatened for the first time in the visiting half of the fourth as a Tommy Pham leadoff walk and a gap shot from Lourdes Gurriel Jr looked to set Arizona up perfectly. Unfortunately, Gurriel read centerfielder Rafael Ortega’s response incorrectly and was thrown out by a longshot at second. Evan Longoria’s potentially game-tying flyball instead harmlessly landed in DJ Stewart’s glove to end the inning and the scoring threat.
Gallen shut down the New York bats for consecutive innings before running into trouble in the fourth as Jeff McNeil’s single and excellent baserunning on an Ortega double gave the Mets their second run 2-0 in the first of three consecutive run-scoring innings for the home side. The psychological backbreaker came in the fifth though as Lindor earned a two-out walk ahead of an Alonso double that plated both Brett Baty and himself to double the Mets lead 4-0. Torey Lovullo elected to send Gallen out again for the sixth despite his struggles, but he failed to reward the confidence as the first three Mets reached via an Ortega walk, Mark Vientos two-run homer, and Brett Baty single before Gallen was pulled after 90 pitches and six earned runs on his ledger. His seventh run was tacked on from a whiffed glove on a comebacker by Andrew Saalfrank who had entered in relief and loaded the bases with just one out. By the time Jordan Lawlar ended the inning on a nifty unassisted double play, it was already 7-0 Mets and the game felt nearly out of reach.
In their defense, the D-Backs were able to get themselves on base with three walks and six hits, but they followed up a 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position performance from last night with an even worse 1-for-11 in such situations tonight. Joey Lucchesi to his credit was able to absolutely shut down the D-Backs lineup over seven innings as he followed up his first, solid start back from the IL on the 18th (a 5.2 IP scoreless affair) with an even better performance against a former divisional opponent. The offense will need to reverse their recent struggles if the team has any hope of nabbing one of the wild card positions and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with a looming weekend series at Chase Field approaching in just two days. Here’s hoping sleeping in their own beds rejuvenates the bats and the brains for one of the biggest series of the season.