Heading into the seventh inning, the game was tied at two a piece. Rich Hill had just thrown six innings, striking out six and allowing only two runs.
As we’ve seen so many times this season, the bullpen was unable to hold things down. Four separate pitchers threw a pitch in the inning, as they allowed a total of four runs, thanks to a grand-slam off the bat of Michael Conforto. It would be enough for the Mets, as they went on to defeat the Dodgers, 7-3.
“I think that it’s one of those things where you have to start getting ahead,” manager Dave Roberts said when asked if he’s worried about the bullpen. “The numbers don’t lie. Giving free passes, we strike guys out, we’re taking on some damage.
“Bottom line is, we’re going to need those guys. Starters are going deep into games and giving us a chance to win every night. I believe in those guys, they’ve all had their moments. We’re still winning baseball games, but there’s some things we have to work out.”
After the Mets took the lead in the top of the third, the Dodgers quickly responded with two runs to take the lead. With two outs, David Freese was able to draw a walk. After falling behind 0-2 in the count, Cody Bellinger crushed his 20th home run deep into the night sky, giving LA a 2-1 lead.
Cody Bellinger. That's it. That's the tweet. pic.twitter.com/nXT9caVnPg— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) May 29, 2019
“It’s much-watch TV,” Hill said. “Any time he comes up to the plate, everyone pauses what they’re doing. He’s putting together a tremendous season offensively and defensively as well.
“Not only is he a front-runner for the MVP of the league, but the MVP of this locker room. The way he handles himself and the way he comes in and prepares every day is like how a true pro should.”
Bellinger moved into some elite company with the homer, as he became the second Dodgers player in franchise history with at least 20 home runs in the teams first 55 games. Gil Hodges had 21 back in 1951. “He’s playing good baseball, really good baseball, great baseball,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s locked in.”
For LA, they’d only be able to tack on one run the rest of the game.
Their lead was short-lived, as a Todd Frazier homer in the fourth tied the game at two. The game remained tied until the seventh, when the Mets hit the Dodgers bullpen with a sucker-punch.
New York wouldn’t even hit the ball out of the infield, as they loaded the bases. Two walks and an infield single put three runners on for Michael Conforto. He took the second pitch he saw from Scott Alexander into the left-center field bleachers, giving the Mets a 6-2 lead. It was the first career grand-slam for Conforto.
The Dodgers put together a little rally in the bottom half of the inning, and looked poised to cut into the deficit. Will Smith led off the inning with a double, his second hit of the night.
“He looked composed,” Roberts said. “It was exciting to see him get his first major league hit. Legs out a double. Squared up the ball all night. He was taking some tough pitches... You would never have guessed watching him tonight was his first major-league game.”
Smith became the sixth Dodgers catcher in franchise history with at least two hits in his first career game. “He was tremendous,” Hill said. “He was a true pro. Handled the game great. Pitch calling was excellent.”
After a passed ball and walk, runners were at the corners with no outs. Joc Pederson and Justin Turner both struck out, swinging and missing at pitches outside the zone. Matt Beaty came in to pinch-hit, singling in Smith to cut the deficit to three. With two on and two out, Bellinger came up, representing the tying run. Unfortunately, he flew out, ending the inning and LA’s chance of a comeback.
The Mets scored another run in the eighth, making it five runs allowed by the bullpen in three innings of work.
LA had their chances, but just couldn’t capitalize. They stranded eight runners on base, and were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
WP: Steven Matz (4-3) 6 IP, 2 ER, 6 SO
LP: Yimi Garcia (0-2) 1 ER, 1 BB
Home runs: Cody Bellinger (20) Michael Conforto (10) Todd Frazier (3)
The Dodgers will look to take the series lead on Wednesday, as Walker Buehler (5-1, 3.58 ERA) will take the mound for the Dodgers. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. PT.