ANAHEIM — Carlos Carrasco and the Mets got the Mike Trout special and the Shohei Ohtani treatment in their 11-6 loss to the Angels on Saturday night.
Of the nine hits Carrasco allowed to Los Angeles, five of them came off the bat of Trout and Ohtani. Trout, the perennial All-Star and MVP candidate, returned to the lineup on Saturday after his three days sidelined because of a groin injury. Though Carrasco struck him out swinging on a nasty splitter in his first at-bat of the night, Trout — the eight-time Silver Slugger winner — cranked a 425-foot home run off him in their next meeting, and a double in their final one.
“Obviously you don’t like it, but you shouldn’t feel like they’re picking on you,” Buck Showalter said of Trout and Ohtani. “They’ve been doing it to a lot of people.”
For good measure, Trout added another home run, this time a two-run blast, off reliever Jake Reed in the sixth. The closest thing the Mets have to a player like Trout is sitting on the injured list and his hitting days are over. But what Jacob deGrom can do every fifth day, when he’s healthy, is still an unfair comparison to Trout, who hits every day and has been lighting up baseball since his 2012 rookie season.
Ohtani was also a headache for Carrasco all night. The pitcher/hitter specialist was only the latter on Saturday, and he made his presence felt in every at-bat. Ohtani collected a double and a single off Carrasco before crushing a two-run home run off the right-hander in the fifth inning, one that broke the game open for the Angels and gave them a five-run lead. The reigning AL MVP pitched on Thursday against the Red Sox, so the Mets will not have to face Ohtani on the mound this weekend. As it is, facing him in the batter’s box is plenty difficult enough.
“I just left those pitches right over the middle,” Carrasco said. “I just gotta tip my hat. Those two guys are the best in baseball.”
Sometimes, there’s just nothing even a good veteran pitcher like Carrasco can do against the best hitters in baseball. And Saturday was one of those nights. But the reality is still a hard pill to swallow for the Mets fans who have been keeping a close eye on the NL East standings.
In just over a week, the Mets’ 10.5-game lead over the division has been cut in half (5.5).
“I think we pay attention to the way we play here,” Carrasco said of the rest of the NL East. “We just don’t try to think about those games. We just gotta continue to play hard and just take care of everything here and everything’s coming together.”
The defending champion Braves, who captured their 10th consecutive victory on Saturday, are playing complete baseball and can’t stop winning. The Phillies, before and after firing manager Joe Girardi, are in the midst of a nine-game winning streak.
The Amazin’s are 4-5 on their west coast road trip. Their series finale on Sunday will give them the opportunity to split their long journey against the Dodgers, Padres and Halos by going .500. But if they can’t come on top in the rubber match, then their tour of Southern California begins to look a little different.
The Mets (39-22) don’t need to be reminded what collapsing out of first place looks like — they just did that last season. At least Steve Cohen, who celebrated his birthday on Saturday by watching a game he’d rather forget, is in the driver’s seat. There is still plenty of season left, and plenty of resources in the owner’s suite to give these 2022 Mets the push they need.