What began as a hopeful opening to the second half of the Mets’ season turned into a sour 6-0 loss to the Dodgers that included six uncharacteristic walks from starting pitcher Justin Verlander.
“I don’t know,” manager Buck Showalter said in answer to how that unfolded Friday night at Citi Field. “You know what, it’s something that he and we will look at. He wasn’t the only one having some trouble with it. Obviously, their guys didn’t. But sometimes you see it after a week or so off.
“Now, we need to identify. I know he’s frustrated with it because we know what he’s capable of.”
Though Verlander wasn’t having a stellar season even before the All-Star break, with a 3.60 ERA compared to his career-low of 1.75 last year, when he won the AL Cy Young at age 39, he said the slew of free passes came as a surprise in what he felt was a successful night otherwise.
“I’m extremely realistic with myself and I thought I didn’t see many good swings off me today at all. [David] Peralta really on a 3-2 fastball that I just kind of challenged him with, and the [Freddie] Freeman swing,” he said, referring to a lineout by Peralta to lead off the second inning and Freeman’s two-run double in the fifth.
“Reaction-wise, I think it was good,” said Verlander, who allowed three runs in five innings. “Six walks is what’s going to keep me up tonight.”
Verlander had walked three by the end of the second inning, but things took a turn in the top of the fifth inning, when he walked three more to start the Dodgers’ offensive run.
He said he tried to “limit the damage,” yet he closed out having allowed three earned runs along with two hits and six strikeouts over his five-inning outing.
“Inexcusable,” Verlander said. “You can’t walk six guys and expect to win a ballgame. Or give your team a chance.”
The Mets won six of their last eight games to end the first half, yet the momentum didn’t carry through the break and the sense of urgency lingers.
“It sucks,” Verlander said. “This was not a good game of baseball in any facet. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t go on a roll. We played good baseball going into the break and I’ll be damned if one game is going to be the thing that says we sure can’t go on. That’s not it.”