Flushing, NY- The Mets needed to get innings from Carlos Carrasco Sunday night at Citi Field. Manager Luis Rojas was hoping for that in order to avoid going to the bullpen after two tough and close games his team lost to the Dodgers.
But Carrasco lasted two innings and allowed six runs on six hits. The Mets, in a stretch of 13 games with the Dodgers and West leading Giants also know this part of their schedule is significant. There are implications of not falling further behind the Braves and Phillies in the NL East.
The Dodgers hit five home runs and did more damage to the Mets with a 14-4 rout. They swept a three-game series and at some point Monday morning, Rojas and his team will arrive in San Francisco and begin a three game series against the best team in baseball.
Then again, despite the Mets two previous games with the Dodgers that resulted in extra inning 10-inning losses, it is obvious their task is getting more difficult as they chase the Braves and Phillies and attempt to regain first place.
But first place was prior to going 12-17 since the All Star break. And this stretch was more than a test with or without Jacob deGrom, Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez.
“We have to turn the page quickly,” said Rojas. “We have a long road trip. This is challenging going at this time of night”
Rojas was concerned about the long flight to San Francisco and his team not getting enough rest to prepare for the mighty Giants, but they have no control of the schedule and decision of MLB and ESPN to play the finale with the Dodgers Sunday night as their national Sunday night game.
More concern is the Mets avoiding a losing road trip and returning to Citi Field later this month no more than the 2-½ game deficit from the Braves. But to gain some ground the Mets need to improve at the plate.
Max Scherzer, one of four Dodgers’ pitchers, kept the Mets from scoring. And to beat the Dodgers and the Giants, the Mets will need to score runs and not leave runners on base. The Mets stranded 10 and went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
In the first four innings, the Mets went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position so they did have scoring opportunities.
“We have to get the hitting going once again,” Rojas said. “We created some chances, put some runners on tonight and just didn’t finish. Yes, we played a couple of tight games the first two nights but the hitting has got to show up. We have to get on a roll.”
And that roll has to happen this week because the Mets have that task of trying to win ball games against the Giants and the Dodgers again next weekend in Los Angeles.
They need more than five innings from their starters. Carrasco, in his fourth Mets start, didn’t have the fastball and the Dodgers went after his ineffective sinker.
The Dodgers, fourth in the NL with 164 home runs, took advantage early and that continued against a Mets bullpen that Rojas was hoping to preserve for their trip to the west coast. And it became a mockery as Rojas used position players Brandon Drury and Kevin Pillar to complete the ninth inning in a game that was out of hand.
“They hit everything,” Carrasco said. “I tried to do something I could, but it didn’t work this time. Tomorrow is another day. I just have to go back to work and do the best I can. I just have to get it right from the start.”
And Carrasco has to be right if the Mets are going to stay in this tight race with the Braves and Phillies. They can’t afford another short outing from the Right-hander who missed a good portion of the season with an injury to the right hamstring.
The Mets have not been below the .500 mark since May 3 after a loss to the Cardinals put them at 11-12. They ended the evening with a record of 59-58. Monday night in San Francisco they oppose 11-5 Kevin Gausman and the Right-hander is one of many Giants that have made them the surprise of baseball.
Said Rojas about his team, “ I know they are going to show up every day with high energy and face any team that stand in the way.”
But the Giants and Dodgers are two teams that stand in their way. And they are teams that can score a lot of runs. Yes, this stretch was going to be difficult but not like it was Sunday evening.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
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