The unforgiving Astro continued his tour of New York City. After splitting a four-game series in the Bronx over the weekend, he stepped on the Amazon’s neck in Flushing on Tuesday night.
The Mets were opened 9–1 by the Astros in front of 36,673 at Citi Field. President Barack Obama was still walking around the White House, the last time the Mets defeated the Astros on September 28, 2014.
Carlos Carrasco (8-7, 4.85 ERA), recovering from lower back pain, still had something wrong with his 4.1-inning outing against Houston. But something has gone wrong for Carrasco in his last several starts. The veteran right-hander has allowed 25 earned runs in his last 35.1 innings, with three of his worst starts coming again against Angels, Astros and Astros.
Kyle Tucker calmed the furious crowd at Citi Field as Carrasco opened the 13th pitch of the night. Carrasco allowed all his first four batsmen to reach base before Tucker ripped on a fastball falling into the flesh of the plate. The Astros, a team with no mistakes to spare, exposed every single one of Carrasco in an ugly first inning.
Instead of taking accountability, Carrasco said several times in his postgame interview that the game changed when the umpires made a “wrong call” on a 3-2 count to lead the first innings on Jose Altuve’s check-swing. Altuve left, and Carrasco was clearly upset. Afterwards he found it difficult to concentrate again.
“I think the umpire made the wrong call right there,” Carrasco said. “It completely changed the ballgame. … I think he screwed up right there, on that call. … If he made the right call, it should have been a different game.”
Although Carrasco settled a few, his pitch count was rising just as fast as his June ERA. The 35-year-old allowed two more runs (the other the result of an unsuccessful outing from Chasen Shreve), before he was pulled into fifth. Carrasco’s 6.07 ERA at the start of June 6 is a troubling trend for one of the main pieces of the Mets rotation, especially while Max Schaezer and Jacob deGrom are still on the injured list.
When Carrasco moved in, it was easy to swallow the five-run shortfall, which happened just moments later. Shreve hit a two-run home run in front of the first batsman: He got out of the pen: Who else, Yordan Alvarez. The Astros slugger won his fourth home run in three games against the Mets, and if Tucker’s home run calmed the crowd, Alvarez’s 403-foot, two-run tether left field took life off Citi Field. Gave.
But Shreve hadn’t done the deal yet. After a few at-bats, Yuli Guriel deepened the Mets southpaw for a further two-run shot in the fifth inning. Before the ball landed in the left-field seats, Buck Showalter broke out of the dugout, mercifully ending Shreve’s night. After starting the season with a 1.54 ERA in his first 10 outings, Shreve has 10.67 ERA in his last 14 relief appearances.
“He started out very well this year, but much of it has been a command thing,” Showalter said of Shreve. “It’s been a challenge to get back to the consistent level that he was for us at the start of the year.”
Carrasco and Shreve aren’t the only ones waiting for the Astros to leave town.
The Mets (47-28) were hoping to bounce back and beat Houston on their own turf after being swept away at Minute Maid Park last week. Instead, Astros left-hander Framber Valdez held the Mets in eight shutout innings. But it’s not like the Mets didn’t have chances.
The lineup’s best chance to respond to Houston’s no-mercy control came in the fourth inning with second and third runners and one out. Then JD Davis struck against Valdez, Eduardo Escobar went to load the base, and Mark Canha was dismissed on the first pitch he saw to end the innings and threat.
After going 1-for-13 with the Runners against the Marlins in Miami on Sunday, the Mets went 1-for-9 with the RISP on Tuesday. The only bright spot in the Mets lineup was Starling Marte, who went 3-for-4 with two doubles. And Wednesday’s series finale against Houston will provide no respite. On the hill Wednesday is two-time Cy Young champ Justin Verlander, who has a 9-3 record in 14 starts and a 2.22 ERA this season.
“The way Valdez was pitching, there wasn’t much room for error,” Showalter said. “We’ll get it again tomorrow.”