Mets' game of Dodge(r) ball turns Utley

May 28th, 2016

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley has heard a chorus of boos in each of his at-bats this series and was the target of an errant 99-mph fastball in the third inning from Mets starter Noah Syndergaard, apparent retaliation for Utley's takeout slide on former Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in Game 2 of the 2015 National League Division Series.

The Dodgers' second baseman, though, has responded with big hit after big hit. A day after hitting a game-tying three-run double in the top of the ninth, Utley crushed a first-pitch changeup from Logan Verrett for a homer in the sixth to get Los Angeles on the board and followed that with a grand slam in seventh to power the Dodgers to a 9-1 victory over the Mets at Citi Field on Saturday.

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"Chase was and has been tremendous, and not only what he does in the clubhouse, but obviously under these circumstance to perform and put us on his shoulders not only speaks to him as a player, but his character, and for me there's no one better," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "To hit the homer to break the ice and tension and give us a lead and to hit a grand slam -- what he's done for us is special."

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Syndergaard's fastball behind Utley in the third caused the right-hander to be immediately ejected from the game after allowing just two hits over 2 1/3 innings while striking out three. Mets manager Terry Collins was also ejected for arguing with home-plate umpire Adam Hamari's decision to toss his 23-year-old pitcher.

"When Chase himself says that he's going to get hit this series or the assumption is we are going to throw at somebody, last night at home plate the umpires had no idea about anything," Collins said. "To all of a sudden assume that was intentional, whether it was or not, with no damage done, I was a little surprised by that."

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To make matters worse, the Mets' bullpen served up five home runs -- solo shots to Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick in the eighth, a solo shot by Corey Seager in the ninth and Utley's pair. Los Angeles' only run not via the long ball came on an RBI single off the bat of Yasiel Puig in the sixth.

Kenta Maeda picked up his fourth win of the season after surrendering just two hits and two walks over five shutout innings. Maeda overcame a first-inning line drive off his pitching hand, which swelled considerably, but X-rays were negative and he is expected to make his next start, Roberts said. It was Maeda's first victory since April 23, snapping a five-start winless streak.

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Ruining the party: All of the energy that surrounded Citi Field because of the pregame ceremony honoring the Mets' 1986 World Series championship team was slowly sapped by New York's offense. Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto each picked up singles in the first, but those would be the last hits the Mets would record until Juan Lagares homered in the eighth. In the 23-batter span between those hits, the Mets had only three baserunners.

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Puig on the run: After taking over for Trayce Thompson in the fifth inning, Puig singled with two outs in the sixth and Gonzalez on second base. Puig took a big turn at first to assure a cutoff of the throw from the outfield, buying Gonzalez enough time to score before Puig was tagged out after a rundown.

Long-ball lashing: Saturday was a forgettable night for nearly every member of the Mets' bullpen who pitched. With Syndergaard pitching 2 1/3 innings, five relievers combined to allow five home runs, which ties the team's season high for homers allowed in a game. Jerry Blevins was the only reliever who did not allow a run during his appearance.

Don't forget A-Gone: While Utley was the star, Gonzalez went 4-for-5 with his first home run since missing nearly a week with lower back spasms. He raised his batting average to .295, one percentage point behind Utley for the team lead among regulars.


"Seriously, Chase is amazing. Amazing to watch, amazing to be his teammate. Just ice water through his veins. It was awesome." -- Thompson .


With his 22nd career multihomer game, Utley has now hit 38 homers against the Mets, which ranks second all time among active players behind his former Phillies teammate, Ryan Howard (45). Ten of Utley's 38 career blasts against New York have given his team the lead.


With two away in the bottom of the fourth, Neil Walker roped a line drive past Gonzalez down the right-field line. He legged out a double but was sent back to the batter's box after the umpires ruled the ball was foul. The Mets challenged, but the call on the field stood.

Pinch-hitting in the eighth with two away, Carl Crawford hit a ground ball to Walker at second base and beat out the throw to prolong the inning. The play was reviewed and the call of safe stood.


Dodgers: The bullpen should get a breather with Clayton Kershaw taking the ball in the series finale against the Mets on Sunday night at 5 p.m. PT. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May (55 K's, 2 BBs) and leads MLB with 79 innings pitched this season.

Mets: The Mets will send Bartolo Colon to the mound to oppose Kershaw and the Dodgers at 8 p.m. ET at Citi Field. The right-hander hopes to fare better against Los Angeles than he has in the past, as he has posted a 2-6 record with a 5.54 ERA in eight career starts vs. the Dodgers.

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