The Mets had their chances early against Aaron Nola on Saturday night.
They missed them, and then they disappeared.
Nola escaped two jams through the first three innings then shut down the Mets the rest of the night to cruise to a 6-2 Phillies win at Citizens Bank Park.
“It almost looked like everything we took was called and everything we swung at was out of the zone,” manager Luis Rojas said. “That’s the kind of pitcher he is.”
The Mets mustered just three hits off of Nola, each of them coming the first time through the order. They went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position as their struggles in that department continued — sinking to 2-for-19 in the series and 43-for-207 (.208) on the season — and letting Nola off the hook before he took over.
The offense’s only bright spot was Dominic Smith, who homered for the fourth straight game with a two-run shot in the ninth inning. But he was still left frustrated by his role in letting one of the rallies slip away, after chasing a curveball to strike out and leave runners on the corners in the third inning of a scoreless game.
“It’s just some at-bats when I have runners in scoring position where, especially being in the middle of the lineup, I need to be able to get that job done,” Smith said. “We had a big situation, had Nola on the ropes and same thing today — just chased a couple pitches. I have to stay locked in, stay in my zone and don’t chase those pitches.
“When I have pitchers on the ropes like that, I gotta be more selective.”
Smith wasn’t alone, though. He had ripped a two-out double off Nola in the first inning to put runners on second and third for Pete Alonso, who chased a curveball out of the zone to end the inning.
It marked the first of 13 straight batters retired by Nola — who lowered his ERA to 2.05 — to end his night with seven shutout innings and eight strikeouts.
“He’s really tough because he doesn’t give in,” Smith said. “He makes quality pitches, whether he’s behind in the count or ahead in the count. He didn’t go over the heart of the plate too much and he got a lot of swings out of the zone. That’s just because he can make his stuff look like strikes.”
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