The relentless Astros continue their tour of New York City. After splitting a four-game streak in the Bronx over the weekend, they stepped on the neck of the Amazin in Flushing on Tuesday night.
The Mets were fired on, 9-1, by the Astros for 36,673 at Citi Field. President Barack Obama was still roaming the White House the last time the Mets defeated the Astros, on September 28, 2014.
Carlos Carrasco (8-7, 4.85 ERA), who was recovering from lower back pain, pitched like something was still wrong in his 4.1-inning outing against Houston. But something has gone wrong for Carrasco in his last few starts. The veteran righthander has allowed 25 earned runs in his last 35.1 innings pitched, with three of his worst starts in that period against the Angels, the Astros and the Astros.
Kyle Tucker silenced the boisterous Citi Field crowd as soon as Carrasco’s 13th pitch of the night. Carrasco allowed all of his first four batters to reach base before Tucker ripped it off on a fastball that fell into the meat of the plate. The Astros, not a single team that missed out, exposed all of Carrasco’s mistakes in an ugly first inning.
Rather than take responsibility, Carrasco said several times in his post-game interview that the game changed when umpires made the “wrong call” on Jose Altuve’s check-swing on a 3-2 count to open the first inning. Altuve walked and Carrasco was visibly upset. He found it difficult to focus again afterwards.
“I think the referee made the wrong decision there,” said Carrasco. “That completely changed the ball game. … I think he screwed up there, during that conversation. … If he had made the right decision, it should have been a different game.”
Although Carrasco calmed down, his number of pitches increased as fast as his ERA in June. The 35-year-old allowed two more runs (the second a result of Chasen Shreve‘s botched outing), before being pulled in the fifth. Carrasco’s 6.07 ERA in six starts in June is an alarming trend for one of the key pieces of the Mets rotation, especially with Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom still on the injured list.
When Carrasco left, a five-point deficit was easier to swallow than what happened moments later. Shreve coughed up a two-run home run to the first batter he got out of the pen: who else but Yordan Alvarez. The Astros slugger hit his fourth home run in three games against the Mets, and when Tucker’s home run silenced the crowd, Alvarez’ 403-foot two-run tater to left field took the life of Citi Field.
But Shreve wasn’t done dealing yet. A few batters later, Yuli Gurriel took the Mets lefthander deep for another two-run shot in the fifth inning. Before the ball even landed in the left field seats, Buck Showalter was out of the dugout, happily ending Shreve’s night. After starting the season with a 1.54 ERA in his first 10 appearances, Shreve has a 10.67 ERA in his last 14 relief appearances.
“He got off to a pretty good start this year, but most of it was commando,” Showalter said of Shreve. “It was a challenge to get back to that consistent level where he was for us earlier this year.”
Carrasco and Shreve aren’t the only ones looking forward to the Astros leaving the city.
The Mets (47-28) hoped to bounce back and beat Houston on their own turf after being swept at Minute Maid Park last week. Instead, Astros lefthander Framber Valdez held the Mets to eight shutout innings. But it’s not like the Mets haven’t had their chances.
The line-up’s best chance to react to Houston’s no-mercy control came in the fourth inning with runners on second and third base and one out. Next, JD Davis struckout Valdez, Eduardo Escobar walked to load the bases and Mark Canha grounded out on the first pitch he saw to end the inning and threaten.
After going 1-for-13 on Sunday with runners in scoring position against the Marlins in Miami, the Mets were 1-for-9 on Tuesday with RISP. The only bright spot in the Mets lineup was Starling Marte, who was 3-for-4 with two doubles. And Wednesday’s series finale against Houston offers no respite. On the mound on Wednesday is two-time Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who has a 9-3 record and 2.22 ERA in 14 starts this season.
“The way Valdez was throwing wouldn’t be much margin of error,” Showalter said. “We’ll get it again tomorrow.”