The hype for the Zack Greinke and Jacob deGrom matchup in Game 5 of the NLDS was understandably off the charts, but the game managed to justify the anticipation. The Dodgers and Mets put on a close, tense show in the winner-take-all fight, but the Dodgers fell short and had their season ended in an unbelievably frustrating 3-2 loss.
It’s one thing to just get outplayed like the Dodgers did in Game 3, but to lose a game on a mental error, a homer by maybe Satan, and chance after chance offensively is simply a hard pill to swallow. Yet again, the Dodgers will go into the off-season with a bunch of questions, without a ring, and asking a lot of “what ifs”.
Prior to the game, there were some curious lineup decisions that I think it’s fair to say many first guessed before the game. Starting Yasmani Grandal over A.J. Ellis despite Grandal probably having a dead back shoulder had been an odd choice for at least a month now, and that didn’t necessarily work out. Enrique Hernandez starting over Carl Crawford or Yasiel Puig in left despite arguably his worst match-up possible being against right-handed starters with plus-plus velocity who can spin it was another choice. Nevertheless, that’s the lineup that was run out, and though the decisions were curious, ultimately it was the players who didn’t deliver.
The game started off close from the first batter, as a bang-bang play was first ruled out but upon review gave Curtis Granderson an infield single. Greinke bounced back to strike out David Wright, but fell behind to David Murphy 2-0 and hung a change that Murphy ripped to left center for an RBI double to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead. The ball was a clean hit, but when it bounded off the wall center fielder Joc Pederson was too close in pursuit and it got over his head. Left fielder Hernandez backed Joc up but slipped upon getting to the ball, and then dropped it, ensuring that Murphy would get to third. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Greinke then struck out Yoenis Cespedes and Lucas Duda to escape trouble.
Howie Kendrick led off the game against deGrom the right way by hitting the ball hard, but it was right at the first baseman Duda. Corey Seager then followed by going the other way and singling hard to left, and Adrian Gonzalez put runners on the corners after singling to right. That set up Justin Turner, the former Mets player who had been killing his former team, and he did so again with an RBI single to right on a quality slider to tie the game up 1-1. Andre Ethier followed with an RBI bloop single over shortstop and into left to score A-Gon and give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. deGrom settled down after that, however, pulling off the same feat as Greinke by striking out Grandal and Hernandez to end the threat.
Clayton Kershaw was excited.
The second inning went swimmingly for Greinke, who struck out Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores, and retired Michael Conforto on a fly out thanks to a beautiful Ethier play between them in a 1-2-3 top of the inning. deGrom also tossed a scoreless frame, but had to use quite a bit more pitches. Joc started off the top of the frame with a walk and a Greinke sac bunt put him into scoring position. Joc had to hold on a Kendrick grounder to short, but Flores threw the ball high and Howie reached. Unfortunately, deGrom settled down again, striking out both Seager and A-Gon to escape in what would become somewhat of a theme.
Greinke had another 1-2-3 inning in the third, getting both deGrom and Granderson to ground out, and Wright to go down on strikes. In the bottom of the frame, the Dodgers got deGrom in trouble immediately again. Turner doubled to left to put another man in scoring position, but Ethier flied out to left and kept him stationary, which led to the confrontation below (Ethier and Don Mattingly both said after the game he was mad at the umpire). Turner then stole third, and Grandal walked, putting runners on the corners. However, Enrique grounded a ball right back to deGrom and into a double play to end the threat and waste arguably the best scoring chance.
The top of the fourth was when Greinke got into trouble again after a lead-off single to right by Murphy, who is possibly Satan. Cespedes followed with a fly out to right, but after Greinke walked Duda, the Dodgers infield fell asleep during a shift and Murphy “stole” third since nobody was covering the bag. Naturally, that run was cashed in on a sacrifice fly in foul territory to Ethier by d’Arnaud, and the game was knotted 2-2. Lots of debate about whether Ethier should’ve let that drop or not, but given that it was not obviously foul and that it was the fourth inning, taking the out there wasn’t the worst decision. Greinke got out of the jam on a Conforto grounder, but the Mets scrapped back a run after all the Dodgers chances failed.
Still, the Dodgers came right back in the bottom of the fourth to threaten again. Joc led-off with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Greinke again, but Kendrick flied out to center and Seager struck out swinging to end another threat. I’m not sure how many scoring opportunities the Dodgers had blown by this point, but it was enough to drive any fan up the wall … and through it.
In the fifth, Greinke bounced back, having a clean 1-2-3 inning by striking out Flores and getting deGrom and Granderson to fly out. Unfortunately, the Dodgers also went scoreless in the inning. A-Gon struck out to start it off, but a Turner double put yet another man in scoring position. Yet again, the Dodgers couldn’t come through as Ethier popped out and Grandal struck out.
Should we even talk about the sixth? Maybe we should skip it? It started off fine, with Wright fouling out to right. However, Satan took a 3-2 fastball that ran back over the middle of the plate and deposited it into the right field bleachers for a 3-2 Mets lead. Yeah, Greinke then struck out Cespedes and Duda but the damage was done. Speaking of damage, deGrom limited it by having a 1-2-3 inning. Enrique grounded out, Joc popped out, and Greinke lined out hard to the right-center gap, and the Dodgers were down to their last nine outs.
The decision to leave Greinke in there was debated a bit, but once nobody was on, it seemed like the right move to let one of your aces that’s below a 100 pitches try to get another inning given how the bullpen can look with anybody but Kenley Jansen pitching. Greinke started off the seventh right, getting ground outs from d’Arnaud and Conforto, but back-to-back singles from Flores and pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson knocked Greinke out of the game. Greinke finished getting through 6.2 innings on 103 pitches, but did allow three runs on six hits and a walk. Zack struck out nine, but the one homer he surrendered put the team in a hole. Reliever Luis Avilan entered and escaped trouble by inducing a Granderson fly out, but the Dodgers still trailed by a run.
Noah Syndergaard entered the game in relief for the Mets in the seventh after warming up three times during the game. Thor immediately induced a Kendrick grounder back to him for an out and then struck out Seager before issuing a hard-fought walk to A-Gon. But he got the Dodgers hottest hitter in Turner to strike out with his mixture of 99-100 mph fastballs and his hammer curve.
In the eighth, Chris Hatcher continued his turnaround. Wright hit a soft liner to second, Satan grounded out to second (!!!), and Cespedes went down swinging for a 1-2-3 inning. It was nice, but not exactly the type of thing you’re pumped about given that the Dodgers were still losing.
Jeurys Familia entered the game for the Mets to get the last six outs of the game. He got off really quickly, getting Ethier to ground back to him. Then Crawford pinch-hit for Grandal and hit the ball hard but flied out to left. Jimmy Rollins then pinch-hit for Enrique (I don’t know why) and worked the count to 3-1 but grounded out to first because he’s not a good hitter anymore.
Kenley entered in the ninth and threw a scoreless inning to keep the Dodgers within one. Duda popped out to short and d’Arnaud fouled out to first, but Juan Lagares doubled to left, which added some drama. However, Familia was due to bat fifth in the inning, so the Dodgers walked Flores internationally and Familia struck out swinging.
The final three outs of the game happened to be the final three outs of the season. Mattingly pinch-hit Chase Utley for Joc down one run, which is a really odd move considering situations like these are exactly what Joc is for. Utley smacked a ball hard to right and initially looked like he got more of it than he did, but it fell into the glove of a fielder regardless. Ellis then got his shot but went down swinging, and Kendrick was the final out of the Dodgers season. Unusually he went down swinging at basically anything thrown towards his general direction, and thus it was all over.
Congrats to the Mets, yes, but it’s hard not to feel like it was the Dodgers that blew the game.
We’ll obviously have time to sort through the blame and the plan going forward and all that crap, but honestly, I don’t give much of a fuck right now.