The New York Mets undoubtedly lugged more than the basic equipment with them when they headed west for a showdown between the top two teams in the National League, a four-game series against the host Los Angeles Dodgers that starts Thursday night.
The Mets needed to make room in the team trunks for gallons of confidence.
Just ask Mets catcher Tomas Nido, who offered an interesting explanation of the team’s approach to offense following Wednesday’s 5-0 win over the Washington Nationals.
“Just execute in situations with men on base no matter what, not let the score (let us) feel like we can get laid-back,” Nido said. “We treat it like it’s a zero-zero ballgame, and no matter who’s on the other side, we’re trying to jam it down their throat and get the job done.”
New York, which picked up its ninth shutout win Wednesday and second in a row, has been doing some jamming lately, winning a season-best six straight games by a combined 49-17.
Mets manager Buck Showalter said while he privately has some thoughts on how good his team can be, he’s reserving judgment publicly.
“We’ll find out in late September, October,” he said. “My curiosity’s going to be satisfied. I’m OK with finding out about it when it gets here.”
Los Angeles, which sits in second behind the Mets in the NL, went into a series against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates percentage points ahead of the Mets.
Then the Pirates, well on the wrong side of .500, toppled the Dodgers for a three-game sweep in what looked on paper as if it was a pretty sizable mismatch.
“I think you just close the chapter and get ready for (Thursday),” Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts said. “There’s really nothing else we can do.”
Los Angeles had won six of seven going into the Pittsburgh series. A loss Thursday would give the Dodgers their second four-game skid of the year.
Los Angeles outfielder Kevin Pillar, who left Wednesday’s game, will be out at least for Thursday’s game because of a shoulder issue, manager Dave Roberts said.
In the series opener, New York right-hander Taijuan Walker (3-0, 2.83 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Los Angeles right-hander Tony Gonsolin (5-0, 1.80).
Gonsolin, who has never faced the Mets, has every reason to be full of confidence. He has won each of his starts this year, has 44 strikeouts against 16 walks, a WHIP of 0.93, and has limited opponents to a .167 batting average.
On Saturday, in the Dodgers’ 3-2 win at Arizona, Gonsolin pitched six innings, allowing two runs and four hits, with seven strikeouts. It was his career-best third straight quality start.
“He’s just understanding how to navigate lineups now,” Roberts said.
“Tony has been what we’ve needed. Tony has had the good fortune of being around a lot of good major league pitchers and taking a little bit from everybody.”
Walker, in the Mets’ 8-2 win Saturday against Philadelphia, gave up two runs and six hits in five innings, with three walks and one strikeout.
Walker is 3-2 with a 4.37 ERA in nine career starts against the Dodgers.
–Field Level Media