As angry as Mets manager Terry Collins was when he and his starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard were ejected in the third inning on Saturday night, just imagine how perturbed they were behind closed doors after watching the source of their ire Chase Utley dominate the game? The stoic second baseman hit two home runs on Saturday night, including a grand slam as the Dodgers cruised to a 9-1 win over the Mets in the middle game of a three-game weekend series at Citi Field in New York.
Utley has been public enemy No. 1 in New York ever since his late slide in Game 2 of the NLDS resulted in the broken leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada.
Utley didn't play in the two NLDS games in New York last year, but he did play in the first five games against the Mets this year, including four starts. If the Mets were going to exact revenge, they hadn't tried it yet, until Saturday night.
Syndergaard, the Mets' best pitcher, allowed two first-inning singles but was otherwise cruising. Then Utley batted with one out in the third inning and the Mets right-hander threw a purpose pitch well behind Utley, and was immediately ejected by home plate umpire Adam Hamari. That there wasn't a warning issued by umpires beforehand — note: there doesn't need to be a warning to warrant ejection — enraged Collins, who argued for a bit then was ejected as well.
Logan Verrett entered in relief and struck out Utley, who showed no emotion as Mets fans rained boos upon him. Verrett pitched very well for the Mets, keeping the game scoreless into the sixth, when Utley batted again. This time, he turned on a pitch and drove it over the wall in right field for a home run, the first tally in a two-run inning.
Then with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, this time against Hansel Robles, Utley launched a grand slam to put the game away. It was Utley's first two-homer game since April 14, 2015.
One night after driving in four runs, Utley had five RBI on Saturday, one shy of his career high. Per the Fox broadcast, Utley is the first Dodgers leadoff hitter since 1920 with back-to-back games with four or more runs batted in.
Utley is the first Dodger at any position in the batting order to drive in at least four runs in consecutive games since Jeff Kent on June 5-6, 2005.
The Dodgers added solo home runs by Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick in the eighth inning to pad their lead, both off Robles. The club is 4-for-13 with four strikeouts and two walks against Robles this season, and all four hits are home runs.
Corey Seager added a solo home run in the ninth inning, the Dodgers' fifth home run of the night, two more than they have hit in any other game this season. The Dodgers' last five-homer game was Sept. 4, 2015 at San Diego.
Give him a hand
The offense made a winner out of Kenta Maeda, who nearly saw his night last shorter than Syndergaard. Maeda was hit on the right hand by a line drive off the bat of Michael Conforto with two outs in the first inning. After getting checked out by team trainers and manager Dave Roberts, Maeda threw a few warm-up pitches and remained in the game.
From there, Maeda didn't allow another hit, holding the Mets to 0-for-13 with two walks and three strikeouts after getting hit on the hand. He was pulled after five innings and just 75 pitches in what at the time was a scoreless tie
Maeda faced exactly 18 batters on the night, and on the season had allowed batters to hit .356/.383/.511 the third time through the order, in all of 47 plate appearances.
But on Saturday night, two days removed from a scheduled day off and a night before Clayton Kershaw, Roberts opted to take advantage of his well-rested bullpen for the final 12 outs of the game.
The Dodgers and Mets have alternated wins and losses in their six games this season. Kershaw tries to snap that string on Sunday night on Sunday Night Baseball, this weekend on ESPN2 instead of ESPN. Bartolo Colon starts the series finale for New York.
Home runs: Chase Utley 2 (4), Adrian Gonzalez (5), Howie Kendrick (2), Corey Seager (8); Juan Lagares (2)
WP - Kenta Maeda (4-3): 5 IP, 2 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
LP - Logan Verrett (3-2): 3⅔ IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 3 strikeouts