The Los Angeles Dodgers walked into Citi Field Tuesday night anticipating a possible NLCS preview. To win that game, their 90th victory of the season, they used Brand New Dodger Heath Hembree out of the bullpen minutes after he was signed, then closed out a win over the Mets with journeyman Jake Reed, silencing Timmy Trumpet for at least one day. And that is how you assert dominance.
On the field, the Mets and Dodgers looked evenly matched once again, as anticipated. Even an horrific throwing error from Andrew Heaney in the first couldn’t derail the battle, and the Mets quickly rallied back from a 3-1 deficit on a pair of bombs in this Game 3-ish fight between mid-rotation arms.
Then came the Dodgers bullpen, though, and Dave Roberts sandwiched two of his stronger relievers (Alex Vesia and Evan Phillips) with two complete wild cards, starting the October (and 2023) audition process as soon as he could.
Hembree made it through a difficult sixth inning unscathed, navigating two hits in large part because Mets manager Buck Showalter opted against pinch-hitting for scuffling catcher James McCann with two on and two out (hey … you did that!).
But things got truly risky when Roberts called on Reed to protect a 4-3 lead in the ninth. If he blew the save and the game got to extras, the Mets had all sorts of pageantry planned. Edwin Diaz was en route from the bullpen, and his jog would’ve been accompanied by live music from Timmy Trumpet, the force behind the horns in “Narco.”
Instead, Timmy will have to come back to Queens another day, as Reed navigated around a leadoff single and induced a Daniel Vogelbach double play ball before things spiraled.
Closing out a one-run win against the second-best team in the NL on their turf is one thing. Doing it with a failed ex-Met who posted an 11.37 ERA in New York earlier this season? Diabolical.
Dodgers closer Jake Reed made Timmy Trumpet come back to Citi Field
This showdown looked a bit like two powerhouses trying to feel each other out. Would Showalter have gone with McCann in October? Likely not. But with a playoff spot likely sealed up, it was an experimental chance he could take.
The Dodgers took experimentation to a whole different level — and it didn’t hurt that Roberts got to keep the Mets’ closer locked away and the music turned off.
This “crucial” Game 1 didn’t give the Mets a very good opportunity to size themselves up against superior competition. No Justin Turner. Mostly no Will Smith. And certainly no familiar bullpen workhorses, though the Dodgers will be mixing and matching plenty down the stretch as Blake Treinen gets back up to speed and Craig Kimbrel tries to iron out his kinks (and not the ones he creates in his shoulder with that windup).
The Dodgers aren’t infallible — and fans know this.
But for one night only, they felt simultaneously invincible and undermanned. Cue the trumpets … tonight, maybe.