A lot of blame can be passed around for the Mets’ collapse, from injuries to underperformance to questionable managing and personnel decisions.
One person, however, should be free of criticism. The Mets could not have asked for any more out of Marcus Stroman this year.
Sunday was just his latest strong performance, a six-inning, two-run effort against the mighty Dodgers that enabled the skidding Mets to get out of Los Angeles with a victory.
Stroman, a free agent-to-be, kept the Dodgers power bats quiet, and the usually punchless Mets offense did enough to avoid a four-game sweep with a much-needed 7-2 win.
“He’s been outstanding for us,” manager Luis Rojas said. “He’s pitched like an ace. … He’s been very valuable and he’s been one of the guys to keep us afloat.”
It was his second straight impressive outing against an elite team, following up the right-hander allowing three runs over seven innings in a one-run loss to the Giants on Tuesday in San Francisco. Stroman struck out six, walked two and allowed only four hits — all singles — to the Dodgers.
“Just mix, man,” Stroman said. “Just being really aggressive. … I thought I had a really great mix.”
Even the runs he gave up weren’t his fault. Stroman should’ve been out of the fourth inning, but J.D. Davis couldn’t handle Chris Taylor’s hard-hit ball and Cody Bellinger plated two runs with a single. But Bellinger was then thrown out trying to steal second base to end the frame, and Stroman retired the last six batters he faced, closing his outing in style by striking out Will Smith.
In doing so, he lowered his ERA to 2.85 and has allowed eight earned runs across 23 ¹/₃ innings in his last four starts. Stroman earned his team-leading ninth win, but with more support, he could have several more. For a change, he was given a lead and he made it stand up.
“It gives me more confidence, just gives me another level to kind of go-to,” Stroman said of the Mets’ three-run first inning. “That was awesome to see.”
In the last three weeks, the Mets have fallen from the top of the NL East into third place. They are seven games behind the Braves and the playoffs are now a major long shot. Not having ace Jacob deGrom since the All-Star break has obviously been a crushing blow, just as being without shortstop Francisco Lindor for the last five weeks has.
Stroman has done his best to give the Mets a chance to win when he takes the mound. Sunday, he ensured they would have a pleasant cross-country flight home.
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