It made for an interesting and, at times, raucous night in Flushing, with a near sellout crowd at a time when the home team was of little consequence to any but the most die-hard Mets fan. Since the All-Star break — after which General Manager Sandy Alderson said his club would have to play “exceedingly well” to fight its way back into contention — the Mets had gone 10-10, draining away any illusions of playing beyond Oct. 1, the final day of the regular season.
On this night, the attraction was the other team and the Mets’ rookie shortstop, in that order.
“We thought Colorado would be a good place for him to start to get his feet wet,” Alderson said of Rosario. “So in some sense, this is a ramp-up, coming back to all the scrutiny and attention and celebrity that comes with playing for the first time in New York.”
The Dodgers and Darvish, acquired for three minor leaguers from the Texas Rangers in a trade deadline deal, performed as advertised. The Dodgers won, 6-0, improving their record to 77-32 and increasing their lead in the National League West to 14 ½ games pending the outcome of a late game between the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Francisco Giants. And Darvish, lugging around a 4.01 earned run average, the highest of his career, held the Mets to three hits in seven scoreless innings, striking out 10.
“They’re outstanding,” Mets Manager Terry Collins said of the Dodgers. “You can’t make mistakes. You saw what happened tonight.”
Rosario performed as expected for a player in only his fourth major league game. Playing in front of about 15 family members, Rosario went 1 for 3, stole a base and handled the ball smoothly on his first — and it turned out, only — opportunity, taking a flip from Neil Walker and completing a 4-6-3 double play in the fifth.
And deGrom — the anchor of the Mets’ rotation in a season in which their ace, Noah Syndergaard, their erstwhile ace, Matt Harvey, and closer Jeurys Familia have missed significant time with injuries — lasted just five innings and while throwing 99 pitches, leaving behind a 3-0 deficit. He allowed three runs on six hits, struck out eight and walked three. It was his second consecutive loss after eight straight wins.
DeGrom, struggling with his command from the start, went to numerous deep counts, allowing a leadoff home run to Chris Taylor at the end of a nine-pitch battle and needing 31 pitches to get out of the first inning.
“He was off tonight,” Collins said. “This is two starts in a row he’s scuffled in the first two innings, and we got to get that fixed.”
Yasiel Puig, who hits eighth in the formidable Dodgers lineup despite having 20 home runs, hit a solo home run in the second. The Dodgers added a third run in the fifth on a double-play grounder that scored Taylor, who had singled.
Rosario struck out his first time up against Darvish, swinging through a 96-mile-per-hour fastball on the eighth pitch of a tough at-bat, and again on a check swing in his third at-bat. But in the fifth, Rosario provided one of the few Mets offensive highlights of the night, pulling a Darvish fastball past Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner for a single, and he received an ovation from the crowd. A few pitches later, he easily stole second, drawing another roar from onlookers.
A roar of another type erupted in the sixth, when Chase Utley, the player Mets fans have loved to hate after his hard slide on second baseman Ruben Tejada in a 2015 N.L. division series, crushed a Josh Smoker pitch into the right-field seats with a runner on base to extend the Dodgers’ lead to 5-0. The Dodgers added a sixth run on a sacrifice fly by Turner in the seventh. By that point in the game, Citi Field, designed to resemble Ebbets Field on the outside, began to look like it on the inside as well, with much of the crowd dressed in Dodgers regalia and cheering for the visiting team.
But the Mets fans in the crowd of 41,187 — the team’s largest home crowd since April 22 — had one big cheer left in them. With one out in the eighth inning, despite the Mets trailing by six runs, the remaining fans erupted in joy as, batting against Chasen Bradford, Utley struck out.
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