On paper, it looked to be the New York Mets’ toughest road trip of the season — a 10-games-in-11-days journey to Southern California to face the top two teams in the National League West before an interleague series against the Los Angeles Angels.
New York owns a winning record midway through the trek heading into the middle game of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday.
The Mets opened the trip with back-to-back losses to the Dodgers.
However, three consecutive wins later, the Mets are looking at the possibility of a momentous swing.
After a 9-4 win against the Dodgers on Saturday, New York rallied for a 5-4, 10-inning victory on Sunday to gain a split of the four-game series.
On Monday night in the series opener at San Diego, Mets third baseman Eduardo Escobar hit for the cycle and drove in six runs as New York powered to an 11-5 win.
“The Mets are relentless,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said postgame. “They make you throw the ball over the plate, and when you do, they attack it. They don’t swing out of the zone.”
The Mets will go for the series win on Tuesday in a match of right-handers — New York’s Taijuan Walker (3-1, 2.88 ERA) and San Diego’s Yu Darvish (4-3, 4.03). It’s a matchup between a Mets hurler who has four strong pitches against a Padres starter who dabbles with eight or nine.
“Everyone knows what Darvish has done and can do,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “He can be tough.”
Walker, meanwhile, will look to continue his career-long success against the Padres: 3-2 with a 1.97 ERA, a 0.844 WHIP and a .171 opponents’ batting average in six starts. In 32 innings vs. San Diego, he has walked eight and struck out 30.
In San Diego, Walker is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA, a 1.000 WHIP and a .167 OBA in three starts.
Walker will be making his ninth start of the season, and he is coming off his first loss. The Mets had won six in a row when Walker dropped the opener of the trip on Thursday, giving up two runs on seven hits and a walk with two strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings at Dodger Stadium. In two of the four starts before that, Walker had worked seven innings of shutout ball.
“He’s got four solid pitches, the splitter, fastball, slider and change,” Showalter said. “Like anyone with four pitches like that, when they are working, they are tough.”
Darvish has lost his two past starts, giving up a total of seven runs on 10 hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. In the start before that, Darvish pitched seven shutout innings in Philadelphia to notch a fourth straight win. The Padres are 6-4 in Darvish’s first 10 starts.
Darvish owns a 3-0 career record against the Mets with a 3.26 ERA, a 0.828 WHIP and a .174 opponents batting average, allowing only 24 hits while striking out 43 in 38 2/3 innings.
The 35-year-old right-hander is averaging only 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings this season — the worst mark in his 10-season major league career and 3.7 strikeouts below his career average.
–Field Level Media