Esposito: Mets vs. Dodgers Always a Treat

No matter when they play, no matter where they play, no matter the level of importance that they play, it always feels like Mets vs. Dodgers is a big deal.

It’s New York vs. LA, Big Apple vs. Hollywood, Broadway vs. Sunset Blvd., pizza vs. meatless burgers, Central Park vs. Disneyland, “fuhgettaboutit” vs. “surf’s up, dude,” and all the other obvious comparisons and contrasts some 3,000 miles apart.

And it was again Friday night at Citi Field, as the big, bad, LA Dodgers came into town sporting the NL’s best record at 95-53 and leading their Western Division by an astounding 19 ½ games. With the Mets again banging on the door to get into a Wild Card slot, it stands to be nearly a make or break weekend for the club that keeps teasing its fans with the prospects of prosperity.

And for a few innings, it was an interesting ballgame, as Dodgers Ace Clayton Kershaw (13-5, 3.06) opposed New York’s mighty Viking, Noah Syndergaard (10-7, 4.06). But in the end, it was another loss for the Mets, 9-2, who can ill afford a bad weekend, as every loss brings them closer to extinction for a season that could have already been bordering on very special, were it not for a faulty bullpen.

For three innings, the Mets led, 1-0, on a first inning home run by J.D. Davis (his 19th), off Kershaw. But in the Dodgers fourth, Thor again had one of those innings that undermines the entire game, giving up four runs on three hits.

Cody Bellinger worked out a walk, Corey Seager and A.J. Pollock singled, then rookie Gavin Lux banged a home run off the centerfield wall that just found the orange line of demarcation. At first, it was ruled a double, but Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called for a replay and the cameras corrected that oversight.

As usual, Mets skipper Mickey Callaway defended his starter who continues to confound with hot and cold starts.

“In several of them it’s been (just) one or two pitches,” said Callaway postgame.

“His slider was not quite where he wanted it. He had four scoreless around that four-run inning. That one inning got to him tonight.”

Some will point to the reported awkward rapport between Syndergaard and catcher Wilson Ramos as the reason, but another angle is that the Dodgers are just a damn good baseball team.

“Obviously their bats are very good over there,” Captain Obvious Callaway pointed out.

Why Mets-Dodgers will always be a big deal in this town is that the Mets were carved from the stones the Dodgers left when they abandoned the city of skyscrapers for the beaches of California some 62 years ago.

Dodgers fans then wandered the city aimlessly for a few years cursing Walter O’Malley under their breath (some still do, and some not so quietly), and when the Mets were born, they found a new batch of lovable losers and switched their allegiances.

This was Game No. 632 between the Mets and Dodgers overall, with the Angelinos leading in victories by a wide margin, 341 in the win column for LA, 270 for the Mets, with one tie in the regular season.

In postseason play, the Mets hold an edge, 9-6. The Mets lost to LA in the 1988 LCS, 4 games to 3, but swept the Dodgers 3-0, in the 2006 Division Series. And New York again came out on top in the 2015 Division Series, 3 games to 2.

The rest of this weekend may very well go a long way toward determining if the Mets will see any postseason opportunities once more this year.

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