FLUSHING, NY — There was Chris Bassitt on the mound at Citi Field Friday evening in familiar territory, a reliable starter last season for the New York Mets but baseball is a business.
The 34-year old right-hander opted for free agency, and the Mets went in another direction. You heard this many times because baseball is a business and Bassitt moved north of the border and The Toronto Blue Jays are his home.
His return to Citi Field was circled around his wife, Jessica, who went into labor for the birth of their second child. The plan was for Bassitt to give the Blue Jays innings, and after his last pitch accommodations were made for him to leave immediately for Toronto.
Bassitt stayed on the mound longer than expected. He pitched 7-⅔ scoreless innings, struck out eight, and gave up three hits. The Blue Jays shutout the Mets 3-0. And Bassitt was long gone and headed to Toronto.
The Mets were shut out for the eighth time this season. Bassitt was not around to comment, though manager John Schneider did the talking.
“He was completely in control of his emotions and stuff tonight,” Schneider said. “It’s one of the best performances we’ve seen of anyone, given everything that he had going on. You just can’t say enough about him tonight.”
His only year with the Mets, Bassitt had a career high in wins (15) and strikeouts (167) and took the loss in the Game 3 of the Mets NL Wild Card loss to the Padres.
Over 42,00 fans at Citi Field booed Bassitt when he took the mound, naturally that would be expected with the Wild Card loss and bolting to Toronto with a $63 million dollar contract. The Mets hesitated about retaining him and opted to sign multiple free agents; three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander was their biggest acquisition.
Ironic that Verlander got the loss (2-3), threw 117 pitches and the most in a game for a pitcher age 40 or older since R.A. Dickey on August 30, 2017.
But this was about Bassitt and the Blue Jays, a lineup that does not strike out much, though Verlander fanned eight.
“It was a bit of a grind, but it’s not frustrating,”Verlander said. “Bassitt looked great. We’ve been playing pretty good baseball. This is just one of those days.”
The Blue Jays have been struggling to compile a string of wins and sit next to last in the AL East, 9.0 games behind the leading Tampa Bay Rays, though notching a MLB leading 538 hits and Bo Bichette leads the league in hitting (.335).
The first of three at Citi Field on the road, the Blue Jays are one of two teams to have scored in every game this season. Bichette picked up his 24th multi-hit game of the season, George Springer hit his second leadoff home run of the season (54th of his career), Daulton Varsho launched a two-run homer in the ninth.
And Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was held to one hit, but this was all about Bassitt and the Blue Jays earning their major league leading ninth shutout of the season.
Bassitt (6-4) has four starts of 7.0 or more shutout innings this season, tied with the Tigers’ Eduardo Rodriguez (Valencia, Venezuela) for the most in the majors this season. He has allowed four or fewer hits in each of those starts.
“It was a pretty cool experience for him to be able to do that and then be able to go experience having his second kid,” Varsho said.
Yes, this is baseball and at times it works this way. The Blue Jays, though, are looking at this as their catalyst to put a string of wins on the board.
Rich Mancuso: Senior Writer LatinoSports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso.
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