Chris Bassitt had a moment of reflection and clarity, both with himself and his catcher, and it pushed him to his best performance of the year.
After getting shellacked in his last outing and feeling “beyond embarrassed” for leaving the bullpen vulnerable, Bassitt pounded the Brewers in Tuesday night’s 4-0 Mets victory through eight shutout innings.
Bassitt, an All-Star last season with the A’s, said he used the last few days to break down the game with catcher Tomas Nido, whom he had failed to connect with organically. It was a worthwhile exercise.
“Relieved more than anything,” Bassitt said. “I just think the extra time we had, I was able to completely break down what was going on. When it came to pitching, I didn’t make many adjustments. I just thought it was completely on me. I just thought me and Nido were completely off, we just weren’t on the same page. So the more and more I fought, the worse and worse I did. So we just spent the last week just getting to know each other.”
On Tuesday, Bassitt established his fastball early, pitched to just two batters over the minimum and struck out seven. He was assisted by strong defensive plays from Brandon Nimmo in center field – including a horizontal dive on a liner to thwart a double – and was only in trouble once, when the Brewers had runners at the corners with one out in the sixth inning.
Bassitt then induced his third double play of the night – a career high – and mowed down the Brewers in the seventh and eighth innings to cap a revitalized evening.
Bassitt said he grew comfortable early in the season with catcher James McCann, who broke his wrist in mid-May, and never bothered to make the same connection with Nido until recently.
“Then when (McCann) went down, I just thought over the last couple games, me and Nido were going to be on the same page. But it just never happened,” Bassitt said. “I totally blame myself and I apologize to Nido because that should’ve been the obvious thing to do. But I just didn’t do it.”
Bassitt totaled 109 pitches Tuesday, striking out his final batter, Jace Peterson, to a standing ovation. Bassitt’s ERA dropped from 4.35 to 3.89, six days after he allowed seven runs over 3.5 innings in a loss to the Padres.
“I was pitching out there the last couple weeks and it was more frustrating and the more and more I fought, the worse I did,” Bassitt said. “We just got on the same page.”
Drew Smith secured the shutout with a perfect ninth inning.
Offensively, the Mets (41-22) struck early with first-inning RBIs from Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil and Eduardo Escobar. McNeil’s double required good fortune, bouncing off the outstretched glove of pitcher Adam Houser and rolling slowly into the outfield.
Houser was pulled in the fifth inning after Alonso’s single scored Starling Marte. It gave Alonso his league-leading 59th RBI of the season.
The Brewers (34-29) are struggling and lost for the 11th time in their last 13 games. Bassitt exposed them.
“We’ve seen the level he’s capable of pitching at,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “I know it’s been frustrating for him lately, but guys like him you trust the moxie and the want-to they have.”