Help arrived for the Mets on Saturday, but left-handed hitter Daniel Vogelbach was in the dugout, not in the lineup.
And on another quiet night for their bats, and with a 1-9 that looked like it did months ago, the Mets looked like they needed more reinforcements.
They made a clear case for adding another right bat as they were silenced by the Padres, 2-1, ahead of 39,359 at Citi Field on a humid summer night, losing a third game consecutive for only the second time this season.
The Mets fell to 58-37 and their NL East lead fell to just half a game over the Braves after their loss and Atlanta’s 7-2 victory over the Angels. The Mets’ lead was 10 ¹/₂ games in early June.
It took until the ninth inning, but the Mets eventually mounted a rally to avoid being shut out. JD Davis, hooked to his right-handed DH spot by a wire, blooped a right-hand single to score Pete Alonso. But with runners on the corners, Tomas Nido – at bat despite a hand bruise suffered the previous night, with Jeff McNeil sitting unused on the bench – moved up to second to end the threat against Padres closer to Taylor Rogers.
Manager Buck Showalter said McNeil was available to beat southpaw Rogers, but he felt comfortable with Nido on the spot. The Mets’ problems, however, were more important than the choice of the last batter of the game.
“We had opportunities, we put people there,” Showalter said after his team went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. “We just couldn’t get that shot to get over the hump.”
Employing a heavy right formation that included Davis (2 for 4 with two strikeouts) at DH against southpaw Blake Snell, the Mets blocked eight runners another night as big hits missed. They have scored 10 points in their last five games.
Chris Bassitt (seven innings, two runs) was excellent in a start in which he briefly flirted with perfection, but even perfection might not have been enough because the Mets offense had no pulse.
Starling Marte was the biggest culprit. The right fielder hit three times on an 0-for-4 night, leaving three on base in the process.
Vogelbach, the hitter acquired Friday from the Pirates, is a right-wing killer who will likely make his Mets debut on Sunday. His DH partner at the moment is Davis, who returned to the dugout after his seventh-inning strikeout upon hearing boos from a crowd that will likely see a different DH right-hander for the final months of the season.
Davis was a problem, but wasn’t the problem on Saturday. The Mets advanced a runner in scoring position in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings and went empty each time.
“They found a way to push two. Usually it doesn’t add up,” Showalter said. “It’s just a place here where [runs] are hard to find. I have a lot of confidence that will change.
The odds dried up after Snell was lifted, until the ultimately disappointing ninth.
As the offense squandered their opportunities, Bassitt wasted no throws.
A Padres batter didn’t reach base until fifth and San Diego didn’t score until sixth — in controversial circumstances.
Bassitt, who struck out 11 to tie a career high, didn’t walk one, hit a batter with a pitch and allowed four hits. It looked like he was out of round six when a slider high in the zone startled Manny Machado, who watched him pass. Bassitt had taken several steps towards the dugout when he realized that what might have been hit three was actually ball one, as umpire Jim Wolfe called it.
When asked how he views the pitch, Bassitt replied, “Like everyone else. But that’s part of the game. It’s normal that he missed it. I just have to make a much better pitch after that.
The next pitch — a “terrible” slider, Bassitt said — slid into the middle of the plate, and Machado propelled it to left field for a two-run home run that took Bassitt into a deep squat and the park. in stunned silence.
The swing ruined a stellar performance by the Mets right-hander who, since a 3 ¹/₃ inning and seven runs against the Padres on June 8, has had six straight quality starts in which he posted a 2.43 ERA.
Bassitt has been in shape and the Mets clearly have the opportunity to enter the playoffs with a potentially dominant rotation if Jacob deGrom returns and his health lasts.
But rotation was far from the Mets’ mind. Help had arrived for the attack, but clearly not enough, with a week and a half to go before the trade deadline.