LOS ANGELES -- Kenta Maeda knew there would be a learning curve when he came to the United States. He never could have imagined this.
Looking more ill than stunned, Maeda hung his head in the center of the Dodger Stadium infield in the fifth inning Wednesday, surrounded by more than 40,000 amazed fans in the stands and an opposing pitcher that was literally running circles around him for the second time.
"They were definitely not good pitches, the ones he hit for home runs," Maeda said through an interpreter. "It ended up being a regrettable result that contributed to a total of four runs."
Perhaps the poorly placed fastball on Syndergaard's third-inning home run was less-than impressive. But his breaking ball toward the outside part of the plate in the fifth inning to the pitcher nicknamed "Thor" was not the most shameful pitch ever.
It was just Syndergaard's day, a concept that was hard to deny, especially after his second home run came only after he failed to lay down a bunt with runners on first and second.
"Yeah, he was in disbelief," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "I don't know if he felt it was a decent enough pitch then to be hit out of the ballpark. Or he didn't think he was going to hit, as opposed to bunt, because earlier in that sequence he was trying to get the bunt down and [Mets manager Terry Collins] took the bunt off. I don't know if that was it. But, yeah, he was stunned."
Roberts admitted that Maeda was not at his best Wednesday, but he was not about to endorse the concept that the league is simply catching up to the unknown pitcher now. The right-hander still has a 2.30 ERA after seven big league starts and did not give up an RBI Wednesday to any of the Mets players who are actually paid to get hits.
"I don't see many pitchers watching video on other pitchers," Roberts said. "You take away those Syndergaard at-bats I think Kenta threw the ball well. I really did. I thought, one through eight, he did a great job. But he wasn't as sharp as he has been with fastball command or breaking-ball crispness. But he still finds a way to get guys out."
Maybe more evidence is needed to say that the league has found a Maeda weakness. But as far as the facts go, the right-hander gave up just one earned run through his first four starts. Over his next three outings, he has lost twice and given up a combined 10 runs.
"Overall they're a very well-balance team," Maeda said. "I was able to get the outs until the end. But those two home runs did hurt and it was something that was a regrettable result."
Maeda's five-plus innings made it the shortest outing of his young major league career, and it necessitated a busy four-inning night from the bullpen. When the rotation was rearranged last week and Maeda and Clayton Kershaw were scheduled to start pitching back-to-back, it looked like it was a way for the bullpen to get two easy days behind a pair of dependable starters.
That scenario did not play out this time around.
"For the pitcher to hit a breaking ball, backdoor, down and away and hit it out of the ballpark -- you probably won't see that again all year," Roberts said. "I was in disbelief. Outside of those two pitches to Syndergaard, it's a 2-0 win."
Except Maeda did need 94 pitches to get into the sixth inning, where he was unable to record an out.
"It was one of those things where it was the pitcher, so you don't expect him to hit two home runs and you can kind of be around the plate for strikes," Seager said of his teammate. "But he looked good other than that. He threw the ball well."
It turns the focus back on the Dodgers' dismal offense, which entered the game having scored just 2.67 runs per game at home this year, second to last to the Phillies. That number actually went down with another two-run offering Wednesday.
Syndergaard did hit 100 mph on the radar gun, though, so it wasn't like the Dodgers were without their challenges.
"I thought we put some good swings on it," Roberts said. "The idea was to get balls up in the zone and give ourselves a chance. We weren't giving at-bats away by swinging at balls in the dirt. I thought we competed well tonight. When you look at Maeda versus Syndergaard, you're thinking low-scoring game. But you don't expect Syndergaard to hit two home runs."