The Mets had no actual manager on Wednesday evening, though that wasn’t nearly as big a problem as having no offense for six innings. Or working around ineffective pitching, for that matter.
On a night when they were without Buck Showalter and bench coach Glenn Sherlock – the former because he was undergoing a medical procedure and the latter because he was still on the COVID-19 injured list, the Mets looked to a committee of coaches and analysts to help make the call. But no amount of strategy was going to wake up their bats, which folded against the Giants' formidable pitching as they lost, 5-2, at Citi Field.
Afterward, pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said that he, hitting coach Eric Chavez and coaching development and instruction coordinator Dick Scott combined to make the calls when needed.
“We have a lot of guys with a lot of experience in there,” Hefner said. “Obviously, we miss Buck and his leadership but I thought, given the circumstances, we did a good job.”
But though it was hardly pretty, it wasn’t exactly disastrous, either. Given his track record and his final two innings, Chris Bassitt’s brutal start looked to be an anomaly: He allowed five runs, all earned, and eight hits with a walk and six strikeouts over six innings, but retired the final seven batters to face him, four on strikeouts. It was the first loss this year for a member of the Mets rotation, which came into the day 7-0 with an MLB-best 1.56 ERA.
Meanwhile, the Mets offense, which entered Wednesday with a .350 on-base percentage, also the best in baseball, went positively limp against Carlos Rodon. The lefthander didn’t allow a run over five innings, with three hits, two walks and eight strikeouts. The Mets scored both their runs off the Giants bullpen, which came into the day with the lowest ERA in the majors.
Pete Alonso went 3-for-4, and Francisco Lindor's on-base streak this year ended at 12 games. Starling Marte had an RBI single in the seventh, but attempted to steal second with two outs, a runner on third and Lindor at the plate to kill that rally.
“I don’t have any regrets,” said Marte, who went on his own. “I wanted to get into a better position to score on a hit and that’s what I did. Unfortunately, I was out on that play but I’m not going to stop playing the way I do.”
The Mets scored another run in the eighth, on three straight one-out singles by Alonso, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha, who returned from the COVID-19 list and drove in the run. With two outs, Dominic Smith lined out to third.
Before the rough outing, Bassitt had not allowed more than three hits in any of his last six starts, for a total of five runs – a span dating to last August. This game against the Giants was the first time he had allowed more than three runs in his last eight starts. On Wednesday, he allowed three runs in just 18 pitches.
“This one won’t feel good,” he said. “I’m not going to take any positives from this one.”
With two on and one out in the first, Joc Pederson laced a double to score the first run, and Bassitt gave up back-to-back singles to make it 3-0.
The Giants got their big bop in the second, when Bassitt floated an 87.8-mph cutter down the middle to Brandon Belt, who hit it off the second deck in right for a 4-0 advantage. Mike Yastrzemski added an RBI single in the fourth.
Rodon, meanwhile, allowed only two runners to reach scoring position.
“He’s doing what he does,” Canha said of Rodon. “He throws really hard and has good ride on the fastball and he made some good pitches when he needed to…There’s a reason that guy is having the success that he has."
The Mets finally scored on Marte's run-scoring bloop single in the seventh to make it 5-1. Marte, though, attempted to steal and was easily thrown out by Joey Bart for the final out of the inning.
“I always have the green light,” Marte said. “I thought there was an opportunity to take the bag there and I wanted to be aggressive so I went for it.”