Any goodwill that was earned during a series win over the Washington Nationals quickly disappeared on Tuesday night, as the Mets’ bats were dormant yet again in a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Citi Field.
Mets starter David Peterson — who needed a strong outing to stake his claim as to why he should stay in the rotation once it returns to full strength — bounced back well enough after allowing six runs (three earned) in just 3.1 innings pitched last week in Chicago against the Cubs. The second-year lefty went six innings, allowing two runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
But the Mets’ offense made Garrett Richards look like Roger Clemens, mustering just one run on seven hits with 10 strikeouts and not a single walk against a pitcher who owned a 6.48 ERA with just 12 punchouts in his four previous starts this season.
“He was in the zone more,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “He attacked. He was able to get ahead. Both of his breaking pitches were working, he got swings out of them, and he created chases because of that. That’s what had him cruising. We got into a swing mode with him.”
Four of the Mets’ 13 strikeouts on the night were saddled to Pete Alonso, who headlined the dubious offensive effort for a team ranked at the bottom of the majors in runs scored.
Jeff McNeil got the Mets on the board with two outs in the second inning — providing their only offense of the night — taking the first pitch he saw from Richards and depositing it into the first row of the second deck in right-field for a solo shot, his second of the season.
“That one felt pretty good,” McNeil admitted. “I’ve been feeling pretty good at the plate, been working on some stuff… Seeing the ball really well, the swing has greatly improved, and I’m excited to see what’s next.”
Peterson wouldn’t even get an out before relinquishing the lead in the top of the third, allowing a solo home run to Bobby Dalbec that just soared past the reach of the outstretched glove of a leaping Kevin Pillar in center field.
The long ball has continued to be a problem this season for Peterson, having allowed four round-trippers in four starts compared to last season when he gave up five in 10 appearances (nine of them starts).
Peterson stabilized momentarily to face the minimum between the fourth and fifth innings, but the Mets continued sputtering on offense, most notably when McNeil struck out with two outs and runners on first and third in the fourth inning.
“Runners in scoring position is the biggest thing,” Rojas said. “It’s like it’s still haunting us.”
In the fifth inning, they made the first and third outs at second base — the first when James McCann tried to stretch a single into a double and the third when Kevin Pillar was caught stealing with a struggling Francisco Lindor at the dish.
Boston took the lead in the sixth when Rafael Devers blooped a single into shallow left field to score Enrique Hernandez, who led the inning off with a double. It put Peterson on the wrong end of the decision as he was lifted following the frame.
“It sucks making a good pitch and the guy flicking it out there like that,” Peterson said of Devers’ go-ahead single. “That’s happened a good amount to me lately and it’s not a good feeling giving up hits like that.”
The Mets bullpen was nearly flawless in three innings of work as Jeurys Familia, Trevor May, and Miguel Castro combined to allow just one hit while striking out five. Yet they could not be rewarded by an offense that failed to get a hit in the final three innings.