When a team leaves eight people on base like the Mets did on Saturday night, their pitcher has to execute every pitch, or risk missing a spot and taking an unfortunate loss.
That’s exactly what happened with Chris Bassitt, who delivered seven strong innings to the Mets but threw a two-strike slider to Manny Machado, which became a two-run homer. The Mets had at least one runner in the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth innings, but could not cross. It was a 2-1 loss for the home team, but anyone who’s watched the game will confirm, it was what they deserved.
“We had few opportunities,” Buck Showalter lamented later. “We couldn’t get that hit to hump.”
Padres starter Blake Snell should then consider opening an escape room. He allowed four hits and two walks, raising his pitch count and forcing him out after five frames, but a zero in the run column brings the lefty’s ERA down to 5.00. Every time Snell needed a big out, whether it was through a double play or a strikeout, he got it. The Mets struck five times against the former Cy Young champ.
Bassit cruised through the first five innings and looked like a man he had encountered, having been removed for strike three with a 92 mph cutter. In watching Bassit during pregame, it’s impossible to tell whether he’s ready for the start or pregaming for a house party. On Saturday, as new teammate Daniel Vogelbach enjoyed his first Citi field scrum, Bassit played a spirited game of ping pong, rendering the background of Vogelbach’s interview with obscenity, his blue cutoff shirt bouncing off the walls. Appeared as he returned shots of Patrick Mazika.
Many pitchers treat their opening day as a religious holiday, avoiding any distractions or social interactions at all. Not Bassit, who followed up a hot ping pong game with a career-high 11 strikeouts. Bassett also did not run any, 11 K and became the first Mets pitcher of the year to go seven innings without a walk.
“There are times when you have that much time, you don’t know how it’s going to feel,” Showalter said. “He had good command of the curveball, the slider was clearly strong. They gave us a chance, a really good chance.”
For the second straight night, a Padre home run came straight after a pitch that could have been called strike three. On Friday, Trent Grisham had a put in the visitors’ bullpen against Jolie Rodriguez to extend the lead to San Diego. It was Machado’s turn on Saturday, but this time the long ball broke the tie without scoring and decided to play.
The 0-2 pitch to Machado in Basit’s sixth innings was a slider. Had it been a fastball, he could have received a call up in the zone, but breaking pitches at that location has a tendency to create an optical illusion for the umpires. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf judged the pitch to be a few threads too high, and the next pitch was another slider that screamed 106.7 mph at the left field wall, the hardest hit ball from either side.
Hard pause, bass.
“It’s part of the game,” Bassit opened up before digging in a bit. “It’s okay he missed, I just have to make a better pitch after that. That was a terrible pitch.”
San Diego’s bullpen swung the last four innings to give Snell the victory. Adrian Morjon and his high-emission fastball hit the side to retire the Mets in seventh, then he came back for eighth and got Brandon Nemo with a 98 mph cheese after Tomas Nido’s single. Setup man Luis Garcia and close Taylor Rogers drove home for the final five outs, and in the space of 48 hours, San Diego had already secured a series win.
So far in their second half, the Mets haven’t looked like the team they were in April and May. It’s literally only two games, and the injuries haven’t helped, but as Showalter is fond of saying, no one is going to feel sorry for him. Sunday’s series finale is now an important game mentally for the Mets, who are clinging to a slim half-game lead over the resilient Braves.
There’s a lot of season left, but every loss counts, and coming out of the All-Star break twice in a row is never a good omen.
“I’ll be very upset if I lose in the playoffs, come that time,” Bassit said. “Now, keep grinding. I know these games are disappointing from all points of view but overall it’s okay.”