LOS ANGELES – The Mets began their most important series of the year so far by playing mostly crisp defense behind a solid pitching performance from their starter. In a lineup without the red-hot Francisco Lindor, it was the Amazines’ bats that failed to click against a strong Dodgers pitching staff.
The Amazons mustered just three hits all night against four Dodger arms in their 2-0 loss to Los Angeles in the series opener Thursday night at Chavez Ravine. One of those three hits came from Luis Guillorme, who hit third and played shortstop instead of the sideline Lindor. The Mets clearly missed their RBI-massing shortstop, which was out of Thursday’s lineup after putting his middle finger on his hotel doors. The majority of Mets hits were blanked by Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin and the National League’s best bullpen.
The Mets (35-18) were shut down for the first time this season on Thursday. They were the last team in the majors to avoid being goosebumps after playing 52 games without being shut out in the fourth-longest row in franchise history. The longest streak was achieved by the 1986 Championship Mets, who were blank in their 86th match. The 1993 Mets were shut out in their 59th game, and the ’94 team was shut out in their 58th game.
Taijuan Walker was able to limit Los Angeles’ injuries to a run in the fifth inning thanks to heads-up defense from the Mets infielders. After four shutout innings, Walker allowed three consecutive singles in the fifth, including an RBI single for Mookie Betts. Inning seemed to get away from Walker, who had pulled 13 of his 16 strikers back until that point before a Freddie Freeman volleyball changed the outlook.
With runners in first and second place, Jeff McNeil laid Freeman’s grounder and threw to first for out. Then the Mets caught Gavin Lux, advancing to third place on Freeman’s grounder, in a rounddown between the home. Using all the instinct and quick thinking, the Amazins relay went 4-3-6-2-5 as Eduardo Escobar snatched Lux in third place with a quick double-double take that ended inning.
The Mets will only face former NL East enemies Freeman (Braves) and Trea Turner (Nationals) in seven games this season against the usual 19, both of whom played in the division. Freeman signed with the Dodgers last season, while Turner was traded to Los Angeles by the Nationals at last year’s deadline. Freeman came in Thursday with a .305 / .390 / .499 career slashline over 12 years against the Mets, while Turner entered the series with a .829 OPS against them.
At least in the Mets’ first time this season against Freeman and Turner, Walker kept the former in check through all of his three strokes against him. Turner went without a hit in his first two shots against Walker and got a leadoff shot from him in the sixth. Overall, Walker left his start in the sixth inning after giving up two runs on seven hits, scoring two strikeouts and going one batter in 5.2 innings and 92 pitches.
Despite the effort, Walker took his first loss of the season in his eighth start of the year. His ERA barely moved, representing the lowest (2.88) among uninjured Mets starters.