Dodgers pounce on righty in 6th on Saturday, continuing troubling trend
By Chris Bumbaca
NEW YORK -- Turns out, third time is not the charm for Seth Lugo.
That is, the third time he goes through an opponent's batting order in a game. Offenses are now hitting .381 off Lugo the third time through the order following the conclusion of the Mets' 7-4 loss to the Dodgers on Saturday. Lugo carried a no-hitter for 4 2/3 innings and held L.A.'s high-powered offense scoreless through five, only to give up three in the sixth inning.
"They don't have any easy outs," Lugo said of the Dodgers' lineup. "Every one of them you gotta bear down and make a pitch to. If you don't, they'll show you what happens when you make mistakes."
A Yasmani Grandal double accounted for the only Dodger hit through the fifth. Then, leadoff man Chris Taylor came to the plate to begin the sixth, thus beginning Lugo's third sequence against the Los Angeles order.
Taylor sent Lugo's slider an estimated 434 feet over the left-center-field wall to get the Dodgers on the board. Corey Seager flew out to center for the first out. Justin Turner singled and then Cody Bellinger drilled his 31st homer of the season into the visiting team's bullpen in right-center. Lugo retired the final hitter he faced, Joc Pederson, on a lineout to center for the second out of the sixth.
Lugo's sixth-inning ERA ballooned to 11.88 by the time Mets manager Terry Collins gave him the hook.
"It's tough," Collins said of the way Lugo's afternoon ended after a promising start. "You saw today. Seth was pitching great. Third time through, he left some balls up and they did some damage."
"He pitched great. He used his breaking ball. He used his changeup very effectively, pitched inside. He did all of the things you want him to do."
Avoiding the home run was one of the few positives Lugo had carried into the later innings overall, having not allowed one the third time through the order all season until Saturday. Oddly, the two pitches the Dodgers' homered on were sliders, with Lugo opting for that offspeed pitch rather than his patented curveball. Lugo only threw six sliders Saturday, utilizing the pitch twice in each of Taylor's and Bellinger's sixth-inning at-bats.
Lugo went with that pitch in the sixth because Taylor drove a curveball for a deep flyout during his previous at-bat in the third, and Lugo was aware of Bellinger's ability to wait back on curves. The right-hander said they were the only two hitters against whom he stayed away from his curve.
"I think they made slight adjustments," Lugo said. "I stayed in to Bellinger all day, and I mean, that pitch was on the inner part of the plate. It might have been the only pitch I threw over the plate to him. Taylor, he popped that pitch up in the first, so he had to have made an adjustment on that pitch."
Chris Bumbaca is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.