Takeaways from the Mets 3-1 win over the Dodgers on Friday…
The Mets defeated the Dodgers by the score of 3-1 on Friday night at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, taking a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five National League Division Series.
Here are my takeaways from the win…
Just as advertised.
This series was billed as having some high octane pitching, and that’s exactly what was on display in Los Angeles tonight. This was a brilliant playoff game, and fortunately, the Mets came out on top on Friday night.
Both Jacob deGrom and Clayton Kershaw matched each other pound-for-pound through the first three innings, racking up one strikeout after the next in a simple display of domination by both of these premiere starting pitchers.
For Kershaw, he was just as expected, featuring his thousand pound curveball and just absolutely tearing up the Mets lineup. He had 11 strikeouts through the first five innings although he had to deal with traffic in each of the first five innings before enjoying his first 1-2-3 inning in the sixth.
He did make a critical mistake fairly early, however.
In the fourth inning, Daniel Murphy clocked a long solo home run to right field which gave the Mets a 1-0 lead.
DeGrom, however, was better than Kershaw and was remarkable right out of the gate while not really making a single mistake. He dominated the Dodgers all night long with a bevy of electric fastballs, sliders and disappearing change-ups. He was plagued by some poor defense in left field from Michael Cuddyer, who misplayed a line drive off the bat of Justin Turner in the second inning and then another fly ball into the left field corner from Corey Seager, both resulting in doubles.
But deGrom stubbornly held the Los Angeles bats down and managed to work around those scary mistakes from the left fielder. It elevated his pitch count but he didn’t seem to power down at all despite that trouble.
That performance got the Mets bats into the seventh inning when they delivered a knockout punch.
They worked three walks against Kershaw and knocked him out of the game in the process. He gave way to Pedro Baez who was tasked with getting David Wright out to strand the Mets best opportunity to do some major damage.
But Wright won the battle with a tremendous two-run single to give the Mets two huge insurance runs, and a lead the bullpen would protect in the eighth and ninth innings, although it got exciting in the eighth inning when Tyler Clippard allowed a run. But Jeurys Familia got the remaining four outs to secure his first career postseason save and put the Mets in an excellent position heading into game 2.
It’s hard to even characterize how incredible deGrom was on Friday night. That was an epic, gritty, thoughtful and artistic performance by deGrom, who answered the call in the biggest game of his life.
He was obviously amped up, throwing most of his fastballs at 97 mph and above. That’s remarkable in and of itself considering his average fastball velocity was 94.9 mph in 2015.
That he was throwing 97 mph and up after throwing his 110th pitch speaks to how energized he was, and it resonated in his body language, delivery, arm speed and the electricity of his pitches from start to finish.
His slider was filthy, His change-up was devastating, and he became more unpredictable as his outing rolled on, especially against Adrian Gonzalez who he fanned on three separate occasions.
Early on, he was striking batters out with his upper-90s fastball, but then he changed the program and started getting outs with his slider, which totally befuddled the Los Angeles hitters.
All in all, it was a magnificent night in the biggest start of his career. He put on a show and he was a lot of fun to watch dominate on the national stage.
It’s all a testament to deGrom’s growth and how far he’s come in what really is a short span of time. And to have him step up to the big time in a place the Dodgers didn’t lose too much in this season just shows the kind of character this kid has, aside from the incredible talent in his right arm.
The playoffs are about moments, and what a moment for David Wright in the seventh inning.
He has had some signature moments since returning from his back injury in late August. Between the home run he hit in his first at-bat and the three-run home run he hit to cap the division title against the Reds two weeks ago, he certainly proved he was back and ready to be a big player in the playoffs.
And he was just that and more on Friday night.
His bases loaded, two-run single in the seventh inning was a classic at-bat for the Mets captain. He had to battle into a deep count, and worked the sequence to 3-2 with two outs and the bases loaded. He smoked a two-run single from Pedro Baez into center field for two tremendous insurance runs to spread the Mets lead out to 3-0.
These moments immediately make one think about all that he has fought for and suffered through during what was the greatest trial of his baseball career when he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis just a few months ago. All of that time spent on the therapist table not knowing if he’d really ever be back to actually come back and deliver in the way he has since returning is nothing short of a great fairy tale for one of baseball’s greatest people.
His hit was the clear difference in this game, but it probably means so much more for the Mets captain, given what he has been through over the last nine years, and recently at that.
A hard fought good start.
This wasn’t easy for the Mets. Kershaw was brilliant and was next to impossible to hit short of the mistake he made to Murphy in the fourth inning. The Mets were largely clueless at the plate, which was expected considering the three-time Cy Young Award winner was on top of his game.
But deGrom and the Mets matched him pound for pound and took advantage of the one bad pitch Kershaw threw on the night. The Dodgers were unable to take advantage of two miscues, mostly because deGrom just didn’t make a mistake despite throwing a lot of pitches under duress in the first four innings.
But that’s the difference in games with star-studded starting pitching. Fortunately, Friday went the Mets way.
Other notes from Friday:
DeGrom’s 13 strikeouts are the most by a Met pitcher in a postseason game since Tom Seaver fanned 13 in Game 1 of the 1973 National League Championship Series.
The 13 strikeouts for deGrom are a season-high.
DeGrom became the first Mets pitcher since Dwight Gooden in the 1988 National League Championship to record ten strikeouts in a postseason game.
Curtis Granderson had two hits and a walk against Kershaw – he had 23 hits against left-handed pitching during the regular season.
Four of the five hits for the Mets came from left-handed hitters.
The Mets and Dodgers combined for 27 strikeouts in game one. Its the first time in postseason history both teams struck out 11 batters or more.
Kershaw fell to 1-6 in his career in the postseason.