LOS ANGELES — When the Mets insisted all offseason, throughout spring training and into the regular season that they liked their lineup, this is what they meant.
In an 8-6 win over the Dodgers on Monday night, a back-and-forth affair in which the Mets overcame three deficits and blew two leads, the batting order looked much as they imagined: Long, deep and able to outhit and outscore — if not outslug — the opposition.
The Mets totaled 14 hits, including 10 singles and just one home run, to grab their fifth consecutive victory. All that came against a starter, righthander Dustin May, who had a 1.47 ERA in his first three starts and a bullpen that was downright dominant last season (if way worse the past couple of weeks with largely the same personnel).
“We made use of the mistakes they did make. They don't make many,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We seemed to answer every time they answered.”
Daniel Vogelbach provided the homer, his first of the year, and totaled three RBIs — matching his season total entering the night. Nobody else drove in more than one run.
Vogelbach began the day with a .174 average (but a .387 OBP).
“I know he’s frustrated,” Showalter said before the game. “The thing I like is he continues to be a guy that walks and gets on base a lot. He hasn’t gotten away from that element that he’s brought. He’ll end up with his track record offensively, but I’m really proud that he hasn’t let them get him out of the strike zone. That’s hard to do when you’re expected to do certain things with the bat.”
Vogelbach said afterward: “Homers are obviously good, but I have 25 at-bats. So I'm not going to panic or think that I'm going to have a bad year . . . It's early in the season. It takes a long time to have a good season.”
Showalter lifted Vogelbach for pinch hitter Tommy Pham in the sixth inning when the Dodgers turned to a lefthanded reliever, Alex Vesia.
The Mets (11-6) mounted a game-winning rally in the top of the seventh, when they had three consecutive singles off Vesia to load the bases. Phil Bickford entered, balked before his first pitch to force in the tying run and allowed Francisco Lindor’s RBI groundout to first to put the Mets ahead. Pete Alonso added an RBI single.
“It's fun to watch those guys when they go,” David Peterson said.
The Mets’ well-rounded offensive performance served as a counterpunch to a Dodgers effort led by Freddie Freeman, who homered twice. He has 30 homers in 196 games against the Mets.
The early innings offered hints of the seesaw-like action to come. Peterson (six innings, six runs) and May (5 2⁄3 innings, five runs) were about equally ineffective.
After Freeman’s home run staked the Dodgers (8-9) to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, Vogelbach struck for a two-run shot to put the Mets ahead in the top of the second. That lasted several minutes until Austin Wynn’s two-out, two-run double to right-centerfield in the bottom of the inning gave the Dodgers another lead.
The Mets rallied for three runs in the fourth, a sequence highlighted by run-scoring plate appearances from Jeff McNeil (single), Vogelbach (groundout) and Brett Baty (single). Making his season debut, Baty fell into an 0-and-2 hole against May but capped the seven-pitch at-bat by pulling an inside fastball to rightfield.
Freeman homered again in the bottom of the fifth to re-tie the score and Muncy’s solo shot the next inning put Los Angeles ahead. At an estimated 433 feet to right-center, the blast was such a no-doubter that Dodger Stadium triggered its homer celebration — most of the lights going on, the rest flashing — before the ball even landed.
The Mets came back for good in the next half-inning.
“It's a good lineup,” Showalter said. “We all chase perfection where nine guys are clicking every night and it just doesn't happen. But if you can stretch out the challenges for a starting pitcher, it wears on them.”