SAN DIEGO — Joey Lucchesi was supposed to be the bigger concern for the Mets than Blake Snell among Friday’s starting pitchers, but that script got thoroughly flipped.
In his homecoming, the inconsistent Lucchesi was just fine. Snell, meanwhile, was close to unhittable for the Padres, sending the Mets to a 2-0 loss at Petco Park. The loss was the third in four games for the Mets, who were perhaps just fortunate to avoid getting no-hit.
Snell, a former Cy Young award winner who arrived to the Padres in a five-player trade with the Rays last December, was coming off two straight rough starts that ballooned his ERA to 5.55. But the left-hander took a no-hitter into the seventh and finished the night with one hit allowed and one walk with 10 strikeouts.
Francisco Lindor ended Snell’s no-hit bid with a solid single to left leading off the seventh and raced all the way to third on Tommy Pham’s error. Snell rebounded and prevented the run from scoring. James McCann struck out, Pete Alonso popped out on the ninth pitch of his at-bat and Brandon Drury whiffed, delighting most of the 16,268 in attendance.
The Padres added to their 1-0 lead in the seventh. Jeurys Familia entered with two outs and walked Tommy Pham and Manny Machado in succession, forcing in a run after Drew Smith had hit a batter and issued a walk in the inning. The Mets bullpen allowed one run over 3 ¹/₃ innings behind Lucchesi. The team is hopeful that a recently overworked bullpen can catch a breather on Saturday, when Jacob deGrom is scheduled to start the third game in this series.
In the eighth, the Mets received a leadoff single from Billy McKinney — for their second hit — but reliever Pierce Johnson recorded three straight outs. Mark Melancon got the final three outs for the save. James McCann and manager Luis Rojas were both ejected with two outs in the ninth after McCann voiced displeasure with a called third strike by plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. With the tying runs on base, Drury struck out to end the game.
The Mets didn’t get their first base runner until McKinney drew a full-count walk with two outs in the fifth. Jose Peraza followed with a shot to left that was gloved for the final out.
In the fourth, the Mets hit two balls with authority, but neither went for a hit. Kevin Pillar hit a shot to shortstop that Fernando Tatis Jr. caught near his face and the ensuing batter, Lindor, hit a drive to the warning track in center that was caught for the second out.
Lucchesi gave the Mets a chance against his former team by allowing one earned run on four hits over 4 ²/₃ innings. The outing was the longest of the season for the left-hander, who arrived in a three-way trade over the winter that included the Pirates. He spent three seasons with the Padres, for whom he started 30 games in 2019.
Machado blasted a full-count sinker into the left-field seats in the first inning to get the Padres a fast run. The homer was the third allowed by Lucchesi in 24 innings and first since May 3. For Machado, the homer was his seventh and gave him 32 RBIs.
Lucchesi didn’t allow another hit until the fourth, when Jake Cronenworth doubled high off the fence in right-center, just beyond McKinney’s reach. Lucchesi rebounded to retire the next two batters, keeping the Mets’ deficit at 1-0.