This game began with headlines of scoreless streaks, an amazing pitcher’s duel between the league’s top two pitchers in ERA, and hair. However, that’s not how it ended, as the Dodgers fell to the Mets 3-2 in 10 innings.
Before getting to the game’s endlessly frustrating ending, let’s start with Zack Greinke. He entered the game with a 43-2/3 inning scoreless streak, then quickly added two more with an overpowering changeup. In the third inning, though, the streak was broken. It started when Greinke hit Kirk Nieuwenhuis with a pitch (in honor of Craig Biggio‘s hall-of-fame induction, probably). Kevin Pawlecki followed with a groundball single to center. Joc Pederson was trying to field the ball in a hurry to throw (and didn’t get behind it), which allowed the ball to trickle under his glove. Nieuwenhuis advanced to third on the play, and scored on a deGrom fielder’s choice, just beating a rushed throw to the plate by Adrian Gonzalez.
It wasn’t a good play by Pederson, but it’s really impossible to say if that run would have scored if he hadn’t botched it (the official scorer called it an earned run, but earned runs are kind of dumb). Even so, it’s hard to be too angry with Pederson. His defense has been outstanding all year, and by definition a scoreless streak of that length requires a lot of lucky bounces in the first place. Greinke’s 45-2/3 scoreless inning streak is the sixth-longest of all time, and the fourth-longest since the dead-ball era. Pretty good. Greinke allowed another run in the sixth as his control started to waver, but he made it through seven innings with only two runs allowed. His ERA ballooned to 1.37.
Meanwhile, what can be said about Jacob deGrom? He showed today why he’s one of the very best pitchers in the major leagues. All of his pitches were working extremely well. His fastball was sitting 98 with decent rise, his slider was in the lower 90s, and his two-seamer was in the mid 90s. He induced 16 swinging strikes on his way to eight strikeouts. He allowed just two singles (one by Greinke) and walked two batters. It was just a dominant performance, and sometimes you just have to tip your hat.
The Dodger bats didn’t go quietly, though. In the ninth inning with one out, Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner hit back-to-back doubles. Yasmani Grandal drove in the tying run with a single just under Juan Uribe‘s glove. However, that’s when the game turned sour.
It began with Don Mattingly not using his closer in a tie game on the road. J.P. Howell, who pitched a scoreless eighth, continued pitching in the bottom of the ninth. He walked Michael Conforto to begin the inning, but he and Juan Nicasio combined for a scoreless inning to send the game to extras.
The tenth inning was even worse. Jimmy Rollins started the inning with a leadoff walk, bringing up Scott Van Slyke. Van Slyke squared to bunt. A bunt in extra innings is not as bad as it is earlier in the game (and can sometimes be positive), but the hitter still matters. Rollins stole second, which left Van Slyke batting with a runner on second and a 3-1 count, a position in which he could have done some real damage. However, Van Slyke still bunted. It was successful, but Rollins was stranded at third after Pederson struck out and Howie Kendrick flew out.
Then, the bottom of the tenth. Even more confusing. Nicasio remained in the game against the top of the Met lineup. Curtis Granderson greeted him with a grounder to right field. Andre Ethier, recently moved to right field in place of Yasiel Puig in a double switch, failed to throw out Granderson, a play which Puig probably could have made. After Ruben Tejada gave the Dodgers a gift by popping up a bunt, the Dodgers intentionally walked Daniel Murphy to set up the double play. Frustratingly, this is when Kenley Jansen was brought in. Why not start the inning with him if you’re fine with him not going in a save situation in the first place?
Of course the game came down to Juan Uribe, too. Jansen got ahead of Uribe 0-2, but threw him a fastball down the middle which Uribe hit off the top of the center field wall to win the game. This happened with Alex Guerrero, who has apparently been deemed not good enough to play third base regularly, standing at third base. But at least the Dodgers have Alberto Callaspo? Pretty much any major leaguer could have crushed that pitch, but that doesn’t make it feel better.
Generally, Mattingly does not get enough credit for the job he does in the clubhouse. There is blame to spread around today, between the offense not scoring on deGrom, Pederson and Kendrick failing to get Rollins at home, and Jansen throwing a terrible pitch in an 0-2 count. Mattingly did not cost the team this game by himself. But, today, he didn’t put the team in the best position to win, and that is beyond frustrating.
The Dodgers will now travel home after a 5-5 road trip, and have tomorrow off. On Tuesday, the Athletics will visit Dodger Stadium. The apparently healthy Brett Anderson will face Sonny Gray at 7:10pm PDT.