LOS ANGELES — The Mets have made a habit of upending the natural order of things, of taking the stuff of fantasy and turning it into unfathomable reality.
In just one turn through the rotation, Bartolo Colon hit the home run that launched a thousand memes, and Noah Syndergaard lived up to his “Thor” persona by bashing a pair of his own. Pitchers doubling as sluggers? Par for the course for these convention-defying, home run-hungry Mets.
But the world snaps back into place. Good times don’t last forever. There would be no unexpected dingers, no joyous romps around the bases, no reflections on the endless possibilities of baseball. In the end Thursday night, there was only order and predictability and a three-hit shutout by Clayton Kershaw, who throttled the Mets, 5-0.
“He was great tonight,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He really had everything working. Curveball was outstanding, locating the fastball. He threw some sliders that you’re just not going to hit. They’re coming in in the middle of the zone and then disappearing.”
After allowing five runs in five innings, Colon lost for the first time since April 9 and watched his career ERA against the Dodgers rise to 5.54. He trailed 5-0 after two innings, on a three-run homer by Yasmani Grandal and a solo shot by Chase Utley.
Kershaw began the night with 13 career shutouts, tied with Colon for the lead among active players. The lefty ended it shaking Grandal’s hand on the field, his reward for his second shutout in his last three starts.
“That’s always the goal: Shake the catcher’s hand,” Kershaw said. “That’s always the goal. It feels good.”
The Mets have been a disciplined bunch, part of the reason they lead the big leagues with 51 homers. But no lineup is immune to an elite pitcher with total command of his arsenal.
“We’re not going up there just swinging at everything,” Kevin Plawecki said. “But hats off to him, he threw a great ballgame.”
Despite chatter of retribution for Utley’s takeout slide of Ruben Tejada in last year’s NLDS, it was Utley who meted out punishment. He finished 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored.
Meanwhile, the Mets ended the evening celebrating modest accomplishments: Colon lasted five tortured innings and recently promoted long man Sean Gilmartin tossed three frames. The bullpen enters a three-game set in Colorado fully rested.
Indeed, the night belonged to Kershaw, who did not allow his first hit until the fourth inning, when Asdrubal Cabrera led off the frame with the first of his two hits. Before that, the Mets’ only baserunner came in the first inning when David Wright worked a two-out walk.
In the sixth, Curtis Granderson lined the Mets’ second hit off Kershaw, a double down the rightfield line. He would advance no further when Wright struck out looking.
Kershaw finished with 13 strikeouts. It was the fifth straight game in which he finished in double-digits, equaling a club record. He surpassed Hideo Nomo and another dominant lefthander in blue: Sandy Koufax.
Meanwhile, Colon made it just three hitters into his outing before his much-anticipated first plate appearance of the night was put in peril. The Dodgers stepped into the batter’s box with aggression on their minds, and Colon obliged with too many strikes.
By the time he came to the plate in the third, his only plate appearance of the game, Colon was little more than a career .092 hitter just looking for a breather. He took a strikeout looking. Against Kershaw, he didn’t bother swinging.
“No, I wasn’t expecting to take any swings,” Colon said through a translator. “The inning prior was a little long so I was trying to get some rest.”