NEW YORK — Superstition did not phase the Mets on Friday the 13th, wearing black jerseys for the first time since a combined no-hitter two weeks earlier. The Mets had been fortunate for the first month of the season. For at least one night, bad luck finally preyed upon the Mets.
Hours after the news of James McCann’s broken hand sidelining him for six weeks, the Mets dropped a 2-1 series opener with the Seattle Mariners on Friday night. For the Mets, who have won or split all 10 previous series this season, beginning a series with a loss feels like bad luck as it is. Yet, the Mets were unable to take advantage of a great Max Scherzer start, struggled offensively and saw their best reliever finally allow a run.
Drew Smith had been lucky for the start of the season, but that luck ran out on Friday. Smith struggled with control in the eighth inning, allowing a run and ending his scoreless streak ended at 13 1/3 innings. Smith walked the first two batters he faced in the top of the eighth, then allowed an RBI single to Ty France. It was the longest scoreless streak by a Mets reliever to begin the season since Addison Reed in 2015.
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“As a reliever, you pitch hopefully 60-70 times a year and you’re not always going to have the best command every night,” said Smith. “Tonight was one of those nights and I felt like I did a pretty good job of limiting damage at the end of the inning. Just got to focus on the positives from it.”
Prior to Smith’s outing, Max Scherzer tossed seven strong innings, allowing a run on three hits while walking two and hitting two batters. Scherzer struck out six and lowered his earned run average from 2.92 to 2.66 on the season. Scherzer was perfect during his first turn through the Mariners lineup, but hit France with one out in the fourth inning to allow a baserunner. J.P. Crawford later singled and Jesse Winker’s two-out single scored France for the only run allowed by Scherzer.
“To be able to go seven innings tonight, that’s always a check mark,” said Scherzer. “You showed up and did your job. You can lose a ballgame or win a ballgame at any given time, so it’s just a matter of making big pitches when you need to.”
The Mets scored early thanks to consecutive hits in the first inning by Brandon Nimmo and Starling Marte. Before recording an out, the Mets had runners on second and third for Francisco Lindor, who was robbed of a hit by Seattle center fielder Julio Rodriguez. Nimmo tagged up and scored from third for the first Mets run.
That’s all the Mets could muster, but not by a lack of trying. According to Statcast, the seven hardest hit balls measured by exit velocity all came off the bats of Mets hitters. Only one of them, Nimmo’s first inning single, was a hit.
“We hit some balls hard, didn’t find holes,” said Showalter. “Just couldn’t find a spot for them to fall in.”
Among the hardest hit balls of the night was a fly ball off the bat of Pete Alonso in the eighth inning. Alonso struck a ball measured at 103.4 miles per hour off of his bat. Analytics suggested it had an xBA, a measurement of the probability of a hit, at .750. It was caught in center field after traveling 383 feet to the warning track.
“Off contact and the sound, absolutely I thought it had what it took to go over the wall,” said Alonso. “It just didn’t, unfortunately. Whether it’s the ball or bad conditions, it is what it is. An out’s an out.”
The Mets are among teams in MLB complaining about the inconsistency with baseballs this season. Offense across the league is historically low, yet there is belief by some to suggest that nationally televised games are receiving baseballs more prone to leave the park. None of those ideas were stated by the Mets on Friday night.
“I’m not going to start getting into the things going on all over baseball,” said Showalter. “The numbers are what they are, what normally exit velocities dictate. It’s the same for both teams, so I think it’s obvious it’s been a challenge all around baseball. We’re playing with the same baseballs from team to team. Whatever’s going on, we’ve won our share of games the way it is.”
And sometimes, you just have bad luck.
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This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: NY Mets unlucky with Mariners, drop series opener