In the opening game of the National League Division Series, the New York Mets beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the expected pitchers’ duel. After Clayton Kershaw walked three batters in the seventh inning to load the bases with two outs, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly pulled his ace.
It was a decision many believed Mattingly should’ve made in last year’s Game 1 of the NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals, and in Game 4. Though, Kershaw’s previous downfalls didn’t have a bearing on Mattingly’s decision. “It was more of just we felt like David’s really good — his numbers against lefties are really good,” he said.
“Again, kind of getting back to it fourth time. He had walked three guys in an inning.” However, going to Pedro Baez didn’t correlate with success. David Wright got ahead in the count 3-1, then lined a 3-2 pitch up the middle for a two-run single that extended the Mets’ lead to 3-0, and proved to be the difference in the game.
“Felt like that was going to be a spot if we got to that point, thought we were going to make a move there. [Baez] is one of our two righties that we felt the power with David,” Mattingly continued. While Baez certainly has the velocity, his lack of control and overdependence on the fastball can lead to trouble.
Mattingly said he elected to go with Baez as opposed to Chris Hatcher, or another right-hander due to the Dodgers only needing to get one out. The pitcher’s spot was due up third in the bottom half of the inning.
While Baez will be remembered for failing to retire Wright, A.J. Ellis praised the Dodger reliever for battling back in the count. “I liked that Petey was aggressive, he came attacking in the strike zone,” Ellis said.
“We took our chances putting the ball in play and unfortunately it scored two runs. It seems like Petey’s strong side has been on his arm side. It’s probably his more confident side throwing a strike. We went with Petey’s strength and David did a nice job of staying inside of it,” Ellis continued.
The Dodgers will need to put the tough loss behind them as Zack Greinke and Noah Syndergaard are next in a series that features plenty of strong pitchers. A loss Saturday night would put the Dodgers in a 2-0 hole with the series shifting to Citi Field for Game 3.