SAN DIEGO — The Mets will pack up their lockers and travel 90 minutes north on an unhappy bus ride to Anaheim.
Chris Bassitt continued his spell of hellish starts in the Mets’ 13-2 blowout loss to the Padres on Wednesday night at Petco Park. Bassitt spit up seven runs, six earned, on seven hits across 3.1 innings and 75 pitches in the series finale. It was his shortest outing of the season, but it wasn’t even the first time this year he was unable to give the Mets some length. Bassitt also permitted eight earned runs in 4.1 innings to the Giants on May 24 at Oracle Park.
Bassitt has allowed 22 runs in his last 26 innings and five starts, translating to a 7.62 ERA. Coincidentally, or maybe not, Bassitt’s worst stretch of the season started on May 19, which is the very same day the Mets placed Max Scherzer on the injured list with a left oblique strain.
Before Scherzer hit the IL, Bassitt often spoke about how much he has enjoyed his time in New York with his new team and a big part of that reason was the now-sidelined three-time Cy Young winner. Often, Bassitt and Scherzer could be seen talking shop in the Mets dugout on the days they weren’t starting.
It’s possible Bassitt has been putting pressure on himself to step up as the team ace ever since Scherzer went down. But there’s another positive influence missing from the clubhouse, one that studied his starting pitchers and knew how to call a good game.
James McCann has been on the IL since May 13 with a left hamate fracture that required surgery. Bassitt’s string of rotten starts began about one week later. The Oakland transplant has a 2.61 ERA in 31 innings and five starts when McCann has caught him this season.
Whatever the reasons behind Bassitt’s downward spiral, the Mets would love nothing more for him to turn it around before his next start for a couple of reasons. One, the Mets rotation will not return to full strength for at least the next several weeks. Two, the rest of the National League East is beginning to get its act together.
The Braves (30-27) have won seven games in a row. The Phillies (27-29) have won six in a row, including five since they fired manager Joe Girardi. Thanks to the double-digit lead the Mets built up before they flew cross country for their 10-game, 11-day road trip to Southern California, the Braves and Phillies aren’t breathing down their necks just yet. But, in what would be a relapse of last year’s collapse, the Amazin’s can ill afford to allow that to become a possibility.
The Mets (38-21) ended Wednesday night’s massacre with a 7-game lead in the NL East. Perhaps the final leg of their west coast tour will offer some respite. The Angels will enter Thursday having lost 14 straight games. The Halos will have the opportunity to snap that losing streak on Thursday, when they play the Red Sox. But either way, the Mets will get the chance to end their long road trip on a high note against a struggling Angels squad that has also listed Mike Trout as day-to-day with a groin issue.
Following Thursday’s day off, the Mets will hope to be less vulnerable than they were on Wednesday night, with their two key right-handed bats sidelined, against left-hander Sean Manaea. Pete Alonso and Starling Marte are day-to-day with right hand and left quad injuries, respectively, which meant four out of nine batters in the Mets lineup in the series finale were left-handed against the southpaw.