There were wild momentum swings, questionable pitching decisions, a ninth-inning comeback and an extra-inning finish.
It might be the first week of June. But the Dodgers’ finale against the New York Mets — and most of this weekend’s four-game series overall — had the markings of something more than a typical early summer matchup.
“This is a good test,” shortstop Trea Turner said. “Any time you can go head-to-head with one of the better teams, it’s always fun.”
The only problem for the Dodgers: Sunday resulted in a disappointing 5-4 loss, a defeat that forced them to settle for a series split, finish a weeklong homestand with an ugly 2-5 record, and cede the top spot in the National League standings back to their resurgent visitors.
“It’s ending on a sour note, obviously, to lose two in a row at home,” manager Dave Roberts said.
Earlier in the day, the contest seemed headed for a different result.
The Dodgers (35-19) jumped out to a first inning lead on Trea Turner’s two-run home run. They got a one-run, 5 ⅓-inning start from Julio Urías, who overcame early command issues to lower his ERA to 2.78.
And even with a worn-down bullpen at the end of a 31-games-in-30-days stretch, the team was still three outs away from turning a lead over to closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.
“Guys were in a position to throw the baseball well,” Roberts said.
In the eighth inning, however, Brusdar Graterol failed to do so.
After being called upon to get the final out in the seventh, Graterol immediately ran into trouble during his second inning.
Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso led off with back-to-back doubles to tie the score at 2-2.
After a J.D. Davis groundout moved Alonso to third and Mark Canha was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners, the Mets (37-19) took a 3-2 lead on a sacrifice fly by Eduardo Escobar.
And even after Graterol was replaced by Alex Vesia, he was charged with one more run when Tomás Nido lined an RBI single that made it 4-2.
By the time the inning was over, Graterol’s already inconsistent season had taken its most disastrous turn yet, shooting his ERA on the year up to 4.81.
“There’s just inconsistent command,” Roberts said of the flame-throwing, yet ineffective right-hander, who was called upon in the eighth inning because Daniel Hudson was being rested two nights after going 1 ⅓ innings in a back-to-back appearance.
“It doesn’t matter how hard you throw,” Roberts added of Graterol, who also gave up three runs on Saturday night. “You still gotta command the baseball, and he’s just not.”
The Dodgers still had a chance at a comeback.
In the bottom of the ninth, they cut the Mets’ lead in half when Will Smith lined a leadoff home run to right. Then, with the team down to its last strike, Chris Taylor pulled a full-count, two-out double down the left field line.
That brought up infielder Eddy Alvarez, who had friends and family in attendance for what was his first start with the club. On a first-pitch fastball from Seth Lugo, Alvarez bounced a game-tying single up the middle.
“Just put a good enough swing,” he said. “Gave us a chance.”
The Dodgers couldn’t take advantage.
After the Mets went back in front in the top of the 10th on a Davis RBI double, the Dodgers had runners at second and third with two out in the bottom half of the inning, an opportunity aided by a successful challenge of a catcher’s interference call.
Smith was back at the plate, but this time came up empty, striking out on a late-breaking sinker against Adonis Medina.
“[We] had an opportunity to put those guys away,” Roberts said. “You let a team like that hang around, they’re gonna put some runs on the board. And that’s what happened.”
After Clayton Kershaw pitched four innings in a rehabilitation start Sunday with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, Roberts said the left-hander’s next outing will be back with the Dodgers. Kershaw will throw a bullpen session this coming week, and could make his return as soon as next Sunday’s game in San Francisco against the Giants.
Roberts announced that outfielder Kevin Pillar will have surgery on his fractured left shoulder. Roberts said the procedure “for all intents and purposes will end his season.”
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