Thursday's game in Los Angeles turned out to be a pitchers' duel, with Jason Vargas and Hyun-Jin Ryu going head-to-head in the Dodgers' 2-0 victory.
Ryu has been stellar for the Dodgers all season, and Thursday was just the latest example of his excellence. He shut the Mets out for 7.2 innings, striking out seven batters while allowing just four hits to earn his eighth victory of year, dropping his ERA to 1.48.
"He mixes it up better than I've seen in a long time," Mickey Callaway said after the game. "There's no pattern whatsoever. He drives his arm through every pitch and he sells everything, whether it's his changeup, curveball, he gets through it. He uses his fastball at the top of the zone at the right times. It's just kind of really a pitching to everybody sitting there watching him. He pitched a heck of a game."
Ryu is backed by one of the most intimidating lineups in all of baseball, but Vargas found a way to keep them quiet for most of the night on Thursday.
"Vargas kind of matched him toe-for toe there, doing almost the same thing, keeping the ball in the bottom of the zone, selling his changeup, mixing in a curve at the right time, throwing it off the plate," Callaway said. "Two really good pitching performances tonight, and we came out on the short end."
Vargas pitched into the seventh inning for the first time this season. He allowed a run early, as Chris Taylor tripled to lead off the game and Max Muncy doubled him home.
After that, the left-hander gave the Mets exactly what they were looking for: seven innings of solid work. With the bullpen spent after the first three games of the series, Vargas ate up innings and kept the Dodgers off-balance.
"I think (I was) just effectively pitching down," Vargas said after the game. "That's the key for me in general. After the first couple of innings I got settled and worked out of some issues with guys on second base.
"I was aware of who had pitched and when they had pitched in this series, so I think that's something we're definitely all cognizant of, but I don't think it affects the way that I prepare or get ready to go into a game thinking about how deep I'm going to go."
Vargas struck out six Dodgers and scattered six hits, but the Mets' hitters were unable to provide him with any run support, handing Vargas his third loss of the season despite his strong effort.
"The results were good tonight, but we lost," Vargas said.
After dropping three out of four to Los Angeles, the Mets now travel to Arizona to start a three-game series with the Diamondbacks.