There were repeated step-outs from Padres batters who may have tried to throw him off his rhythm. There appeared to be PitchCom issues when opposing base runners reached second base. Tomas Nido was catching him, which has led to problems before.
In an outing filled with possible distractions and aggravations, Chris Bassitt was just not good enough.
The Mets’ No. 3 starter allowed three runs in four innings of the 6-0, series-ending loss to the Padres in Game 3 of the wild-card round at Citi Field on Sunday night.
Bassitt’s quietly excellent season ended poorly and with plenty of noise. Facing a Padres offense that had slugged its way to runs against Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, Bassitt’s struggles appeared more to do with rhythm than with mistake pitches.
San Diego batters — managed by Bob Melvin, Bassitt’s former A’s manager who knows him well — consistently stepped to the plate and then asked for time. The Queens crowd booed the apparent tactic, but it is possible it worked.
Bassitt got into trouble in the second inning. Josh Bell singled to lead off the frame and reached second on a Jake Cronenworth ground out. With two outs, Bassitt worked very slowly, appearing to have problems hearing the PitchCom device that relays signals to him to keep opponents from stealing signs.
Bassitt walked Ha-Seong Kim on seven pitches before walking Trent Grisham on five. With the bases loaded, a well-placed single, through the shortstop hole, from No. 9 hitter Austin Nola gave the Padres a 2-0 lead they would not surrender.
Another jam arrived in the fourth inning, which would be Bassitt’s last. With two outs, Bassitt walked Kim, who then stole second base. The Padres, using the Mets’ method of athleticism and timely hits, added their third run with Grisham ripping a single to center. The Padres center fielder, who hit just .184 in the regular season, played like a star in the series.
The stars of the Mets’ rotation did not, finishing the three playoff games with a combined 7.36 ERA.
Bassitt had excelled throwing to James McCann this season, posting a 3.09 ERA in 14 games. When Bassitt was matched with Nido, his ERA was 4.08 in 13 regular-season games, although the battery appeared to get closer to the same page the more they worked together.
Manager Buck Showalter opted for Nido, whose bat had been far better than McCann’s.
Whatever the cause, Bassitt, who likely will be a free agent, may have ended his Mets tenure on a poor note.